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Kenya22 April 2002

A journalist wanted by the police for having denounced police extortion

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has written to Alex Rono, head of the North-Eastern Provincial Police calling on him to reverse an order for the arrest of Victore Obure, the Garissa correspondent of the East African Standard. "He is a journalist who is simply carrying out his work. There can be no justification for ordering his arrest," said RSF Secretary General Robert Ménard. "The fact that he has gone underground is a very alarming sign of the treatment meted out to journalists detained by the police. The Head of the police said in December 2000, however, that measures would be taken to ’harmonise the relationship between the police and journalists’."

RSF has learned that Victor Obure, the Garissa correspondent of the East African Standard, has decided to go underground because of fears for his safety. According to police sources, the Criminal Investigation Department - CID - called for his arrest a week ago following an article which reported the extortion of thousands of shillings from the inhabitants of Garissa by police, during a crackdown on illegal immigrants in the city.

RSF also gave a reminder that on 22 March 2002, The People Daily newspaper and its Chief Editor George Mbugguss, were ordered to pay 20 million Kenyan shillings (about 300,000 Euros), to Nicholas Biwott, Minister for Trade and the Interior, for "libel". "The secret history of Moi-Nyache, an article published on 10 March 1999, claimed that Mr. Biwott, then Minister for the Eastern African Community, was involved in the controversial awarding of a tender for the construction of a hydro-electricity dam. The newspaper claimed that the "Turkwell Gorge" project had been awarded to a French company under dubious circumstances.



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