Spate of violent attacks against media as Kenya's access to information law finally enacted
Journalists demonstrated on 8th September to call for increased protection for the media in Kenya, following a spate of violent attacks against reporters ahead of presidential elections in 2017. On 7th September, freelance journalist Dennis Otieno was reportedly shot dead after unknown gunmen came to his home demanding a photograph he had taken. His death followed shortly after that of Standard journalist Joseph Masha who died in mysterious circumstances on 3rd September; fellow journalists suspect he may have been poisoned and are calling for a thorough investigation. The previous day, two journalists were seriously injured while covering a demonstration by students in Murang’a. They were beaten by guards and were reportedly "reeling in pain". The protest was related to Kakuzi Company's decision to repossess 45 acres it allegedly gave the school a decade ago.
In a positive development, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Access to Information Act into law on 3rd September, ending a protracted law-making process and establishing rules necessary for members of the public gain access information held by state and private bodies. The move was welcomed by open government advocates, including the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The OGP's Maureen Kariuki said:
“by providing greater access and transparency to government decision-making, Kenya’s Access to Information Act will further strengthen the essential bond between citizens and government. This was a flagship commitment in the recently approved second Kenya OGP National Action Plan, and will help Kenyan citizens access vital information about how the country is run”.