Kenyan minister in trouble over hate speech

August 17, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) wants newly appointed Trade Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere prosecuted over hate speech.

The commission said it had asked the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General to prosecute Mr Mwakwere last month, but the request that had not been met: "We are disappointed that this advice has not been heeded," NCIC vice chairperson Mary Onyango said.

She added: "As a Commission we hereby publicly reiterate our advice to the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General that the Honourable Chirau Ali Mwakwere be prosecuted for violating Section 13 and 62 of the National Cohesion and Integration Act 2008."

The alleged offence was committed during the campaigns for the Matuga parliamentary by-election, which Mr Mwakwere successfully defended.

But Attorney General Amos Wako issued a statement on Tuesday evening dismissing the claims by the NCIC that his office had refused to act on the request.

"I wish to confirm that the allegations of hate speech against Hon Mwakwere by the NCIC are being investigated by the police and my office is yet to receive from the police the result of that investigation," Mr Wako said.

He added that he was surprised by the allegations since the modalities of handling complaints and allegations of hate speech were clear to the NCIC.

"Complaints of hate speech by the NCIC should be referred to the police for proper criminal investigation and thereafter the completed investigations file be reviewed by the NCIC, DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and Police before the same are forwarded to the Attorney General for his appropriate action."

Ms Onyango said she expected the law to be followed irrespective of social status and explained that no one should be exempted for spreading hate speech or tribalism.

"Mwakwere maybe a Minister or an ordinary Kenyan, but first and foremost he is a Kenyan.  The Constitution does not guarantee anybody immunity, we expect other institutions of government will play their part," she said.

She expressed confidence that the commission would not spare any individuals and promised that it would continue checking on individuals violating the law.

Mr Mwakere\’s indictment comes barely two months after an Assistant Minister and two Members of Parliament were charged with hate speech and incitement to violence.

Lawmakers Wilfred Machage – who was an assistant – and Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi faced five counts of hate speech, while Cherangany legislator Joshua Kutuny was separately accused of incitement to violence.

Mr Machage was suspended by President Mwai Kibaki as from his Roads Ministry portfolio a day after he was arraigned in court.

On Tuesday, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission also said it was investigating similar complaints made against former Baringo Central MP Gideon Moi.


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