CJFE protests attack on Kenyan journalist

Thursday, February 18, 1999

CJFE protests attack on Kenyan journalist

His Excellency President Daniel arap Moi
c/o The Minister of State
Office of the President
PO Box 30510
Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: +254 2 337340

18 February 1999

Your Excellency,

On behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), I wish to condemn the recent events that found our colleague, editor and human rights activist David Makali, kidnapped and beaten on 15 February 1999. Makali, the editor of "Expression Today" and director of the Media Institute, a non-governmental organization with which we work, endured a frightening trip with twelve unidentified men who threatened his life.

Earlier that day, Makali met two representatives of the Luyha People's Forum who stopped by his home in the morning, requesting that he join them at a hotel in the city centre. The men wanted to "chat" and prodded Makali to write a story about the mismanagement of the economy in his monthly newspaper after attending the meeting. He agreed to meet with them later in the day, and eventually made his way to the hotel. Makali stated that as he entered the hotel "...somebody grabbed me by my neck from behind and another one by the waist, lifting me by my trousers. They started beating me and shoving me into a waiting Toyota van. At first I thought they were police officers, and even passers-by thought the same, given the way I was being handled."

Makali's captors drove out to the Karura forest on the outskirts of Nairobi, abusing and threatening him all the way. He was eventually abandoned in the forest after another beating, followed by an ominous admonition that his next encounter with the gang would be his last.

Makali later recounted his story at a press conference, stating that his captors were particularly incensed by a story he published alleging the involvement of several prominent politicians and businessmen in a major drug ring. The thugs demanded to know the name of the author and the sources behind the story entitled "Kenya turned into haven for drug barons."

While Makali admitted that the experience has greatly shaken him and that he now fears for his life, he has vowed to continue his work as editor of "Expression Today," and as director of the Media Institute. As President it is imperative that you publicly state your support for Makali, and prove to him and all Kenyans that the freedom to express one's views will be vigorously defended. I urge you to do everything in your power to bring his captors to justice.

Yours sincerely,
Wayne Sharpe
Executive Director

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