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Kenya to Clampdown on ‘Hate Speech,’ says Official

  • Peter Clottey

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki (L) and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga (R) (file)

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki (L) and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga (R) (file)

In Kenya, a Cabinet minister says the government is committed to rigorously enforcing the law on hate speech in the run up to the general elections next March.

“The government will not condone any utterances that amount to hate speech that cause public disaffection,” said Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Ababu Namwamba.

“I think there is real resolve that we should stamp out hate speech or politicians using any platform to make utterances that would cause public disaffection and foment a breach of the peace,” Namwamba said.

His comments came after members of parliament demanded the dismissal and possible murder charges against an assistant Cabinet minister accused of uttering hate speech.

Last week, Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko ordered the arrest of Ferdinand Waititu, assistant minister for water services and irrigation, for a speech that led to violence in his Embakasi constituency.

“The government wants to send a strong message that nobody, no matter how high or low will escape the full force of the law on this matter of hate-speech,” Attorney General Githu Muigai was quoted as saying. “This case is a good example, [which] will send a clear warning to people inciting communities against each other that the government will not tolerate such conduct.”

But, some Kenyans had demanded that the assistant minister also be fired immediately as a deterrent to others.

Namwamba, the sports and youth minister, told VOA the public is right to expect decisive action against those who incite violence.

“Kenyans are justified in being very concerned when they see a minister of government engaging in practices that amount to fomenting to a breach of the peace or using language that amounts to hate speech,” said Namwamba.

“Perhaps Kenyans want to see more decisive action - like anytime a government minister engages in anything like this Kenyans want to see that that minister leaves office,” he said.