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Dear ‘Star’, suspects are innocent until proven guilty

Wait, we are not suggesting, with our heading, that The Star newspaper condemned anyone. We are not even suggesting that The Star does not know suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

But the newspaper was recently complicit in condemning suspects when it reported Police Inspector General Japhet Koome doing so – without correcting him. What did Koome say?

Speaking before President William Ruto at a public function in Mombasa, the police boss decried the tendency of suspects in court being allowed facemasks.

The February 26 heading said, Why I want suspects in court without facemasks – IG Koome.

The story quoted Koome as saying, “Si tuwaone wakienda kortini? At least hiyo punishment kidogo kuonekana na kila mtu…lazima wapate aibu”.

Suspects should be published, shamed?

The story by Emmanuel Wanjala just left it at that. It turned a blind eye on the police boss’s surprisingly pedestrian statement.

Without educating that suspects have a constitutionally protected right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, The Star allowed Koome to insinuate that suspects are guilty before they are heard.

What, then, would be the point of dragging suspects to court? For a charade?

The police should know better. The police boss should be held to even a higher standard. The Star failed to do so.

What is the effect? A knowledgeable audience will wonder why a national newspaper is parroting ignorance. An audience with less critical thinking skills will assume, unfortunately, that the parroted position is the truth.

Readers who do not pause to think will also get sucked into the same wrong assumption.

Guess what, Citizen Radio demonstrated this the same day.

And it didn’t come from some humble bloke in the village who happened to tune in on a show.

Show presenters themselves parroted The Star story, worsening it by joining Koome’s mob justice crowd.

Citizen Radio’s popular evening show, Drive on Reloaded, was on, with funny man Abdi Munai Generali and Tina Ogal behind the mic.

They had something to say about The Star’s story.

“Mwizi ni mwizi! Hata wangetolewa tu nguo zote; hakuna kujificha!” Munai said out loud on national radio. Co-host, Tina Ogal, cheered him on.

So, Citizen Radio, too, failed to offer a correction.

You cannot overestimate the harm that The Star created with just an omission: Failure to set the record straight.

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