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Kenya Group to Urge Arrest For ‘Hate Speech’

  • Peter Clottey

Post-election violence in Kenya led to the demand for more reforms. (file photo)

Post-election violence in Kenya led to the demand for more reforms. (file photo)

The chairman of Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) says his organization will soon recommend the arrest and prosecution of Kenyans who are using social media to publish “hate speech.”

Mzalendo Kibunjia says the proposal is designed to prevent a repeat of the 2007-2008 post-election violence that left about 1,300 dead and more than 180,000 displaced in Kenya.

“We are going to take this unprecedented action because we have been trying very hard to rein in… inciteful message in all spheres,… [including] social media, and that is where for the last five months, we have been pursuing these postings,” said Kibunjia. “And that is why we will be taking action in the next few days to make sure that is not an avenue of inciting Kenya to violence.”

So far, the NCIC has recommended the arrest and prosecution of three politicians and three musicians after they were accused of inciting ethnic violence during the campaign to approve a constitution.

The Kriegler Commission, which investigated the 2007-2008 trouble, reported that major contributors to the violence were hate messages sent through as texts and on radio shows.

“We have decided those areas identified by the Kriegler Commission are covered by the institution, and we are saying even if there could be low level violence as a result of local politics, we will not have the kind of violence in 2007-2008, where it engulfed almost the whole nation,” said Kibunjia.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to prosecute some prominent Kenyan politicians accused of complicity in the post-election violence.

Kibunja says the NCIC is working with other security agencies to prevent acts that could trigger violence during the March 4 elections.

Among other measures, he said the NCIC will be working with police and plans to use recording equipment to monitor political rallies “to collect tangible evidence that can be sustained in court for people to be prosecuted on the basis of incitement.”