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Kenyan government official threatens to kill journalist over reporting

 JournalismPakistan.com
 June 09, 2024

Kenyan government official threatens to kill journalist over reporting

KAMPALA—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Kenyan authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations that a government official threatened to kill Douglas Dindi (pictured), a reporter for the People Daily newspaper.

Dindi reported to CPJ that on May 20, David Alilah, Chief Officer of Medical Services in Kakamega County, threatened him after Dindi sought a comment regarding allegations that inadequate ambulance services led to the death of a mother and her newborn at a local public health facility.

"The reports of threats against the life of a journalist simply for asking a government official for an interview send a ripple of fear across Kenya's media community," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator, Muthoki Mumo, in Nairobi. "The only way to reassure journalists of their safety is by credibly and transparently investigating allegations that Kakamega County Chief Medical Services Officer David Alilah threatened to kill People Daily reporter Douglas Dindi."

According to Dindi, Alilah became hostile and threatened him after he returned to the official's office for a scheduled follow-up meeting. Alilah allegedly shouted at Dindi, accusing him of blackmail and threatening to kill him if he published further reports on the ambulance services issue. Alilah also accused Dindi of negatively portraying Kakamega County Governor Fernandes Barasa by reporting his plans to run for election in 2027 under a different political party.

Dindi filed a report of the threat with the Kakamega Central Police Station and recorded a statement on May 22. He also met with representatives from the Media Council of Kenya (MCK), who are currently pursuing the matter.

Alilah confirmed to CPJ that he had met with the MCK and provided a statement to the police, but declined to comment further due to the ongoing investigation.

MCK chief executive David Omwoyo stated that the Council is closely following the police investigation and condemned any attempts by government officials to intimidate journalists or deny them access to information. Omwoyo encouraged both parties to refer the issue to MCK's Complaints Commission.

Kakamega Deputy County Police Commander Benson Makori confirmed that the Criminal Investigation Department is investigating the matter.

CPJ's attempts to reach Kakamega County Governor Fernandes Barasa for comment were unsuccessful.

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