Journalist injured as Nairobi protests against Finance Bill reach fever pitch

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The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) condemned similar acts last Tuesday, which saw journalists arrested and attacked while covering the demonstrations. 

AFP news agency journalist Collins Olunga was shot and injured in the right arm while covering the anti-Finance Bill protests in Nairobi's central business district on Tuesday.

The journalist was rushed to the Agha Khan Hospital and was said to be stable.

Earlier on Tuesday, at least two other civilians engaging in the protests were shot on Moi Avenue near Kenya Archives, one in the hand and the other in the abdomen. They were ferried to the Kenyatta National Hospital for further treatment by medics responding to medical cases in the city.

The incidents happened despite last week's calls for police to practice restraint while handling journalists and Kenyans covering and participating in the protests.

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) condemned similar acts last Tuesday, which saw journalists arrested and attacked while covering the demonstrations.

"The council is dismayed that while journalists were relying on police to provide them with security in the line of duty, the security officers resorted to manhandling, harassing, arresting and assaulting them. This is despite the fact that the journalists were well identified with MCK badges and press jackets," MCK CEO David Omwoyo said on Tuesday.

During Tuesday's protests, The Eastleigh Voice reporter Hanifa Adan was among the journalists who were harassed and arrested even before the protests began.

Others were Joe Muhia and Iddi Ali Juma of AP, who were arrested and later released after being assaulted.

In an incident caught on camera, Standard Group Video Editor Justice Mwangi Macharia was arrested and violently hauled out of a moving police vehicle, sustaining physical injuries.

Nation Media Group's Taifa Leo reporter Sammy Kimatu was also thrown out of a moving police Land Rover and was taken to the hospital with injuries.

NTV's Maureen Mureithi was also hospitalised after the police fired a tear gas canister at her as she covered the protests.

"Today's unfortunate events remind us that members of the National Police Service remain the weak link in Kenya's quest for freedom of expression and freedom of the media, as espoused in our constitution," Omwoyo said.

"We call on the Inspector General of Police to rein in on his officers by ensuring that journalists are protected and not targeted for harassment while performing their duties in any working environment."

In another statement issued last week, human rights groups said 200 people were injured during the Thursday protests in Nairobi, sustaining soft tissue injuries and the effects of tear gas inhalation.

"Fifty have been referred for further specialised treatment. There were five casualties of rubber bullet injuries, police teargas canisters and batons. Six people were hit by cars while running away from police officers. There is confirmation of live shootings verified by the presence of spent cartridges," the groups said in a statement.

Their words were echoed by the International Commission of Jurists-Kenya, which called for urgent respect for the right to protest and a stop to the use of live bullets on protesters.

The NPS has yet to issue a statement on its officers' conduct since the protests began last week, only maintaining that it's committed to maintaining law and order and protecting life and property.

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