13 March 2013

Kenya Warns Unaccredited Foreign Journalists

Photo: AllAfrica
The government has warned foreign journalists working in the country illegally that they risk deportation (file photo).

Nairobi — The Ministry of Information and Communication has warned foreign journalists who are working illegally in the country that they risk deportation.

The Director of Information Joseph Owiti says there are a number of foreign journalists in the country practicing without proper credentials.

"The Department of Information is currently the organisation that is charged with the responsibility of accrediting international journalists wishing to work in this country so if they don't have it then they should not be here."

"We have a lot of foreign journalists in this country and how they are operating we don't know. We may need to seek the support of security personnel to help us identify those people who are here illegally... we had a few problems with some foreign journalists of CNN and the story on Financial Times."

The Director of Public Communications Mary Ombara shared Owiti's sentiments accusing some foreign correspondents of filing stories that display shoddy journalism.

"We also expressed our deep concern over the deliberately negative role played by some international correspondents in the coverage of the elections. In this regard, we are happy that the local media refused to pick up the untruthful stories on the purchase of thousands of 'pangas' or the footage run to depict the non-existent mayhem in the country. Stories must always be truthful and balanced."

The story published by the Cable News Network (CNN) on some Rift Valley residents arming themselves ahead of the just concluded general election caused uproar among Kenyans on Facebook and Twitter.

Government spokesman Muthui Kariuki accused Nima Elbagir, the CNN correspondent behind the story, of stage-managing her report and later held a meeting with her to ascertain the whereabouts of the said militia group.

"I had a very friendly meeting with the reporter who anchored that story Nima Elbagir, and we had a lengthy discussion. However, hiding under the cloak of source confidentially, she didn't tell me where those militias are training."

"That information was something I felt she had an obligation to reveal, but going by Article 19 of the Vienna Convention, I decided to let her keep her sources," Kariuki had said.

Elbagir defended her report saying that although it must have been difficult for Kenyans to accept, it was truthful: "There really was no desire to tell a 'story'. We wanted to reflect a reality that many human rights organisations have been concerned about."

A story published in the Financial Times on CORD presidential contender Raila Odinga also sparked fury after the writer was accused of misrepresenting an interview with the outgoing PM.

Odinga went on to state that although he took exception to being misquoted, he had no problem with foreign journalists and the Fourth Estate as a whole as they act as the public watchdog.

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