Police to begin analysing poll hate speech

April 19, 2013 7:25 am


Supporters attend a political rally during the recent campaigns/FILE
Supporters attend a political rally during the recent campaigns/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 19 – The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is soon expected to start analysing hate speech recordings done at political rallies since January and have the perpetrators prosecuted.

The CID officer in charge of Legal and Criminal Affairs Stanley Cheruiyot told Capital FM News that 300 police officers have been monitoring hate speech across the country and soon they will be recalled to compile the recordings which will be analysed by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“We are waiting to recall the police officers and analyse every recording which will be presented to the tripartite committee for review. If any recording amounts to an offense of hate speech, we will arrest the culprits,” he warned.

Despite efforts to monitor political rallies, police deployed to monitor hate speech faced numerous pitfalls.

Cheruiyot identified logistical, technical and capacity hitches that hampered efforts of also dealing with online and oral hate speech.

In January this year, through the support of donors police were given 300 audio recorders to be used to monitor hate speech in political rallies across the country.

The police did not have enough time to be trained on how to use the recorders and identification of hate speech which is a new crime in Kenya.

“The offense of hate speech is new in Kenya. There was not enough time to train and learn how to use these gadgets and also to understand what hate speech is. We hope we can have continuous training together with NCIC,” he asserted.

Police also were not able to match the politicians’ way of campaigning since most of them were using helicopters to hop from meeting to meeting within a limited time span.

“We had the recording gadgets but down there in the field, we were not able to match with the politicians’ campaign plans. They would even go to seven meetings in a day because they had helicopters,” he recounted.

Though they were equipped with the recorders, most of them abandoned the role of monitoring hate speech due to capacity challenges of providing security during campaigns.

“We have few vehicles, the roads are bad and we had very few personnel. Some of the police given the gadgets were deployed for other duties. They were asked to man political rallies and so they ended up not doing the work of monitoring,” Cheruiyot said.

He however cautioned that monitoring of hate speech did not stop with elections and police officers are still monitoring hate speech incidences since January and soon will compile their reports which will be used to build cases.

Language barriers nonetheless made it difficult for officers to monitor hate speech for those deployed to areas where politicians used vernacular language at rallies.


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