Kenyan MPs on the spot over hate speech

June 14, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – Cabinet Minister William Ruto and five Members of Parliament are among politicians the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) wants prosecuted over alleged hate speech.

The commission’s Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia said on Monday that there was substantial evidence implicating MPs Wilfred Machage, Fred Kapondi, Mohamed Shiekh Dor, Julius Kones and Joshua Kutuny together with political activist Christine Nyangitha in hate speech.

Dr Kibunjia said that the commission had received complaints from members of the public on what it termed “irresponsible utterances” by the leaders.

“Based on the significant proof that we have in our possession, we have issued Cessation Notices to the said persons, requested the security forces to charge them accordingly and closely monitor public remarks by the said persons particularly during the referendum period,” he said.

The NCIC Chairman said that the commission issued the notices on Friday and that the mentioned persons would have two weeks within which to retract their statements and make a public apology.

But speaking at the No campaign headquarters later on Monday, the Higher Education Minister and Mr Kapondi said they had had not received any summons to appear before the NCIC.

Mr Ruto instead accused the commission of “indulging in prosecution through the media”. He however said that he was prepared to appear before the commission on Tuesday morning to clarify any of the said accusations.

Dr Kibunjia added that there were other individuals who had also been accused of making tribal and socially divisive remarks who would be summoned by the commission in due time.

“We cannot however reveal the names because we have not yet completed our investigations,” he said.

He further asked President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to immediately suspend campaigns on the proposed Constitution until the start of the official campaign period on July 13.

Dr Kibunjia who said that the campaigns had taken the wrong footing also called for the immediate enforcement of the laws governing the constitutional review process.

“The commission is concerned by the level of animosity created by the public utterances of some leaders on both sides. This is threatening peaceful co-existence and national security. We make this request to the both of you in the paramount interest of national unity of our beloved nation,” he said.

The NCIC Chairman added that the commission had also sent copies of the request letter to Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo.

He said that appropriate measures banning hate speech needed to be enforced so as avoid a repeat of the 2008 post election violence.

“We do not want Kenyans to go through that path again. Kenyans are yearning for national cohesion and hate speech goes against this desire,” he said.

NCIC Vice Chairperson Mary Onyango reiterated that the commission had no powers to prosecute and that it relied on the police and the Attorney General’s to take legal action against anyone accused of hate speech. 


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