, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – The police on Friday warned against hate speech and negative ethnicity in the build up to the 2012 general election.
Speaking during the launch of a joint training programme for police on hate speech, the Director of Police Operations Julius Ndegwa said the force would be tough on people involved in violence or hate speech.
“Gone are the days when deviants of the law were regarded as heroic and so whoever chooses to disrespect the law would have themselves to blame, we shall deal with any forms of impunity swiftly and decisively,” he warned.
He said the police were already closely monitoring any forms of hate speech and incitement especially ethnic hatred.
Ndegwa called on Kenyans especially leaders to be accountable in their actions and utterances to avoid sanctions for failing to observe peace and national unity.
“It is our collective and individual responsibility to decide what is legitimate and exercise the enjoyment of our freedom of expression without infringing on the rights of fellow Kenyans,” he asserted.
He further urged the media, the civil society and politicians to lead the rest of the country in advocating for peaceful elections.
In reference to the recent attacks in Kisumu against presidential candidate Raphael Tuju, he said police were out investigations and more arrests would be made to punish those involved.
He pledged total cooperation from the police to ensure elections will be free and peaceful.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia said the joint training by the Kenya Police, NCIC and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions which will take place on November 16 to 18 in Mombasa will see police trained to counter negative ethnicity and hate speech.
He said the programme will be rolled throughout the country and will continue until March 2012.
Kibunjia further said the programme will have additional training for monitors from all the 47 counties in the country to observe hate speech.
The programme will see police trained to foster peace among the different ethnic communities in the country.
He said that was one of the interventions NCIC had settled on to help counter violence and hate speech in the build up to the 2012 general elections.
“Hate speech as a crime is a new phenomenon in Kenya and to holistically address this crime, three institutions are working together in the enforcement of legal provisions relating to hate speech,” he said.
Kibunjia also called on government key institutions and the rest of the people to avoid ethnic animosity, incitement to violence and hate.
He said NCIC will be strict to ensure that a repeat of 2007/2008 is not replicated in the country.
He explained that the commission will be keenly observing any issues that will be a threat to peace and fairness in the country.
The Office of the DPP pledged to support the programme by ensuring any suspects brought forward are prosecuted.