Nairobi, January 8, 2024—In response to news reports that private security personnel assaulted and harassed at least five journalists covering a January 5 raid on a bar in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, by police and drug enforcement officers, the Committee to Protect Journalists has urged a transparent and immediate investigation.
“Authorities should swiftly investigate assaults on the five journalists attacked during a drug enforcement operation at a Nairobi bar and hold all perpetrators to account through a transparent process. This is the only way to send a message that attacks on the press will not be tolerated,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. “Police and other state authorities should also take steps to ensure that journalists who cover their operations are protected from harm.”
On January 5, agents with Kenya’s National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) and police officers raided the Kettle House Bar and Grill in Nairobi’s Lavington neighborhood as part of a broader crackdown against the smoking of shisha pipes, which may contain tobacco and are illegal in Kenya. Bouncers at the club resisted authorities and assaulted at least five journalists and several police officers, according to those news reports.
Jane Kibira, a camera operator with the state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), was stabbed in the back, and Boniface Bogita, a photographer with the privately-owned Nation Media Group, was stabbed twice in the ribs, according to separate reports by the journalists’ media outlets.
Bonface Okendo, a photographer with privately owned media house The Standard Media Group, sustained injuries to his arms and legs during the attack and had his camera confiscated, according to a report by his outlet, which also said a Standard Media Group camera operator, Jackson Kibet, “managed to escape with few injuries but had his memory card confiscated.” The report did not clarify how the journalists were injured.
The Standard reported that Bogita and Okendo were treated in a hospital, and KBC reported on January 6 that Kibira had been treated and discharged from a hospital.
Lawrence Tikolo, a camera operator with the privately owned broadcaster Citizen TV, was punched in the ribs and had his camera “vandalized,” the media outlet reported.
In a statement published on X, formerly known as Twitter, NACADA condemned the violence by security officers and said it led to the “hospitalization of some of the victims.”
Police officers said they arrested 21 people in connection with the incident, according to the news reports. On January 8, Nicholas Kosgei, the head of enforcement at NACADA, told CPJ that investigations were still ongoing and suspects would be arraigned this week.
KBC reported that police recovered a knife at the scene believed to have been used in the attack.
A person who answered the phone when CPJ called the Kettle House Bar and Grill on Monday night said a manager was not immediately available for comment.