Lawyer Nelson Havi who is accused of smearing campaign in social media by Nairobi lawyer Nelson Havi against court reporters.

BY Nairobi Times Correspondent.

The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) has taken great exception to a smear campaign in social media by Nairobi lawyer Nelson Havi against court reporters.

In a statement to media houses, KUJ Secretary General Erick Oduor said the campaign of intimidation amounted to threatening the fundamental tenets of press freedom in Kenya.

“The judiciary is a very important arm of the government. That is where aggrieved parties go to ventilate their grievances. By intimidating reporters who are on that beat, Mr. Havi wants to dictate what people hear and read about proceedings in court.

The courts were made a privileged environment for reporters to work in, so that unscrupulous people who would want to manipulate the judicial process by making it opaque can be exposed,” Mr. Oduor said.

He added: “We believe that Mr Havi, as a senior lawyer, knows that the Constitution under Article 34 lays down the process through which he can seek redress against individual journalists or a media house he feels has misrepresented facts or proceedings in an open court.

Resorting to character assassination of individual journalists is a cheap shot”.

The union said that the smear campaign is meant to instill fear in journalists over a matter that is active in court is unacceptable and must be condemned with strongest terms possible.

“The direct assault on individual reporters from the Daily Nation, The Star and The People Daily journalists who covered a matter that was discussed and ruled on by a judge in an open court is not only meant to influence reporting on an issue of great public interest but a ploy to shift the blame to journalists and make them collateral damage in a war pitting capitalists against each other”, the union spokesman quipped.

KUJ demanded that Mr Havi withdraws the offensive tweets and issues an apology to the said journalists within 48 hours otherwise the union will seek legal redress.

We are aware that this is not the first time that Mr. Havi is using direct threats to journalists. He has done so against a business reporter at the Daily Nation and a court reporter at the Business Daily. This is his modus operandi and the union will not sit back and let the fundamental rights of reporters be violated,” said Mr Oduor

“We would like to bring it to the attention of Mr. Havi that by the time a story is published or aired by a media house, it stops being the “property” of the journalist because there is a rigorous process of verifying facts by editors before publication. So if he feels aggrieved, he should use legal means to seek redress,” the KUJ Secretary General said.