Kenya: Guns Exposé - MCK Says DCI Summons a Threat to Media Freedom

One of the weapons surrendered to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations by Citizen TV, following an exposé on illegal weapons, as pictured during a press conference by DCI boss George Kinoti on April 20.

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has criticised the DCI for issuing summons against two Royal Media Services editors over the "Guns Galore" and "Silaha Mtaani" investigative reports, saying this threatens media freedom.

The two, Editorial Director Joe Ageyo and Strategy and Innovations Director Linus Kaikai, were asked to present themselves at the DCI headquarters to shed more light on the matter.

In the exposé, Citizen TV's Purity Mwambia and her crew showed how they were able to procure a pistol, AK 47 rifle, a pair of handcuffs and police uniforms from alleged police officers through criminal middlemen.

One of the editors handed over to the police on Monday evening.

Following the broadcasts, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said earlier on Tuesday that the reporting was inaccurate, sensational and aimed at humiliating the National Police Service (NPS).

DCI boss George Kinoti claimed the security sector was not reached for comment, that "very high" security protocols were breached and that focus was entirely on the confessions of criminals. He also said the reporting amounted to abuse of media freedom.

Official complaint

The MCK issued a statement later on Tuesday, saying the appropriate action to take would be filing a complaints with the Media Complaints Commission.

The council said it expected investigations, "not violating freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information" as provided for in articles 33,34, and 35 of the Constitution and the Media Council Act of 2013.

"In this case where the media has exposed weaknesses among some elements in the National Police Service, natural justice demands the same service cannot then purport to investigate or otherwise summon the journalists," MCK's chief executive David Omwoyo said.

"Instead, efforts should be put toward finding out how their members are providing civilians with guns, bullets, uniforms and handcuffs."

He noted the protection of journalists through the Constitution and that Kenya is bound by international instruments including the Tswane Principles on National Security and Freedom of Expression, as it is a signatory.

DCI Kinoti said the journalists would not be compelled to reveal their sources but would need to give detectives information that will help trace crimes committed using the weapons that were surrended.

He also noted the need to prove prove how police officers help criminals to secure firearms.

"We have no idea what atrocities these weapons may have been used to commit. We shall be seeking the assistance of the editors to get to the bottom of this matter," he said.

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