Hate speech verdict on Kenya PM due Friday

May 13, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) will this Friday make known the verdict of a case involving Prime Minister Raila Odinga together with five individuals separately accused of making tribal and divisive remarks.

NCIC Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia said on Thursday that those found guilty would have 14 days to withdraw their statements and make a public apology or have their cases forwarded to the Attorney General for prosecution.

Dr Kibunjia who also said that the Commission had so far received 50 complaints from the public added that those whose cases were forwarded to the AG risked being jailed for five years, fined for Sh1 million or both.

“It is a matter of public interest; particularly the one on the PM. But we are also saying that even though the PM case came in, there are also other cases that we have been dealing with. Tomorrow we will tell you more and we will be able to answer all your questions,” he said.

The PM has been accused of making inciting statements during an interview with a vernacular radio station.

He also said that the commission had partnered with the Kenya Police to monitor hate speech as personalities geared up their campaigns for the upcoming referendum on the Proposed Constitution.

“Even though the NCIC is supposed to be looking at hate speech we really don’t have powers to arrest; we can only point to that direction (the police). We don’t have powers to prosecute but we can prepare files and forward them to the Director of Public Prosecution. We do not want to get into the same problem some of the commissions have had in the past,” he said.

He also said that the partnership with the police was aimed at making the force become agents of cohesion to champion for unity in the country.

According to Dr Kibunjia, the Police would come up with a charge sheet for those at the grass roots to report cases of hate speech to the nearest police station. “Hate speech is a criminal offence which can be charged under the Penal Code.”

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere lauded the move saying it would prevent a repeat of the events that occurred in the 2005 referendum and culminated in the post election violence.

The NCIC Chairman further said that the commission had received Sh30 million from the government through the supplementary budget which would be used to educate the public on hate speech as well as map out hot spots that were epicenters of conflict so that the commission would intervene on time.

“For example when we go to the Rift Valley we will not hold our rallies in Nakuru but in a place within the Rift Valley where there are some tensions. What we have received from the security organs is hot spots in the country such as Mt Elgon in Western Kenya, Molo and the border between Pokot and Turkana,” he said. 

He also added that the integration Commission had received approximately Sh7.7 million ($100,000) from the United Nations Development Programme which would be used to develop a strategic plan and conduct an ethnicity survey.

As a long-term measure, Dr Kibunjia said the Commission was planning to develop a training manual for the police on national cohesion issues so that it can become part and parcel of their training.

“We were happy to hear that the Kenya Police is in the process of re-doing their training manual and this is an opportune time to mainstream issues of integration into their curriculum,” he said.

The Police Commissioner also appointed Julius Ndegwa, the Director of Operations, as the contact person on issues dealing with hate speech.


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