Order on hate speech in Kenya backed

June 2, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 2 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) is happy with the directive issued by President Kibaki to hold accountable all those found guilty of hate speech, saying individuals who churn out divisive statements are guilty of criminal offences.

NCIC Chairperson Mzalendo Kibunjia on Wednesday said the Commission had already formed four teams that would be dispatched to all major regions in Kenya to control incidents of hate speech.

In an interview with Capital News Dr Kibunjia also said Kenyans should not be divided along religious lines following the ruling that was made on the Kadhis’ courts.

“This is the only country we have. Let us not look at small things that may derail the idea of building a one united Kenya where everyone lives in peace and harmony irrespective of ethnicity, irrespective of religion and irrespective of their race. Kenya is bigger than an event; it is bigger than a court ruling,” said Dr Kibunjia.

He asked Kenyans to understand the context under which the ruling was made and to familiarise themselves with the judgment saying questioning the credibility of the Judiciary was not good.

“It does not make sense to just criticise the Judiciary. More important is to find out why they made the decision and what it was based on. And for us as a country it is important to know that you cannot say a section of the Constitution is unconstitutional. You can only declare the whole Constitution unconstitutional,” he said.

The Commission also welcomed the arrest of three men in Voi over the weekend in connection with tribal remarks they allegedly made.

“Hate speech is criminal so the police can also prosecute that. We don’t have separate rules for the big fish and the small fish and due process must be followed. We are still waiting for more information from the police with regards to this case,” he said.

Dr Kibunjia explained that the Commission would also look at the evidence presented against the three men and decide the way forward.

“If the statements made have the possibility of stirring religious or racial hatred then that is where we come in as a Commission and follow it up. We don’t have arresting powers… that lies with the police and we do not have prosecution powers; they lie with the Attorney General,” said the NCIC Chairman.

He added that the Commission would also engage the Treasury seeking funds for the work it would embark on to ensure the rule of law was observed. He explained that the Commission had asked for Sh50 million from the government as a start.

“Some of these resources will go to how we recruit scouts that can monitor hate speech all over the country, recording devices and logistics such on how to make the Commission accessible to all Kenyans. We have also asked for Sh450 million for the next financial year,” he said.


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