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Press Statement: UNPALATABLE PROFILING REMARKS AGAINST A JOURNALIST BY THE CS PROF. GEORGE MAGOHA

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

Press Release:              

Nairobi, 28th July 2022                                       

UNPALATABLE PROFILING REMARKS AGAINST A JOURNALIST BY THE CS PROF. GEORGE MAGOHA

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The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) condemns in the strongest terms possible the unpalatable remarks uttered by the Cabinet Secretary for Education Professor George Magoha and directed to a Nation Media Group’s Broadcast Journalist during a media briefing session. That the Cabinet Secretary is recorded on national media being alive, conscious and contemplative of his remarks to the Female Muslim Journalist, paints a picture of a State Officer who has little or no regard for the media practitioners in this country. The journalist was entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and to be addressed and referred to in a manner that is not demeaning.   

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights considers such utterances as the epitome of arrogance and tantamount to media harassment and intimidation. Such stigmatization by a high-ranking Government official, and one in charge of the Education System in the country, creates social exclusion and exacerbates mental and psychosocial distress to targeted individuals and their  community. Yet, his unfortunate remarks comes barely a week after he condemned the assault of a pupil from Nyamninia Primary School in Yala, Siaya County.

The rights provided for in our Constitution guarantee unrestricted press freedom. The enjoyment of media freedom is clearly stipulated and anchored in the Constitution under Article 34 on the freedom of the media and Article 35 on access to information. Freedom of expression is therefore an enabling right and limiting it in media work means limitation of other rights within the Constitution.

Leaders have a crucial role to play in ending stigma and discrimination, and it is therefore very unfortunate when a person in a position of power perpetuates stigma and discrimination against a journalist. Under Chapter 6 of the Constitution, leadership comes with responsibilities. Article 73 (1) (a) (ii) of the Constitution states that the authority assigned to a State officer is a public trust to be exercised in a manner that demonstrates respect for the people.

Furthermore, negative utterances levelled towards journalists in the line of their duties to inform Kenyans, could evoke negative attitudes against them, dehumanize them, and can even lead to violence against them. The media practitioners are a group that deserves solidarity rather than ridicule and abuse as they deliver on their noble profession.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights exhorts all leaders, to be alive that journalists must equally enjoy their rights to dignity, privacy and life. Journalists must not become the target of restraint in the course of their fundamental duties and accountability to the public.

It therefore behooves the Cabinet Secretary for Education Professor George Magoha to publicly apologize to the Nation Media Group journalist.

Roseline Odede, HSC

Chairperson

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

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