Kenya NGOs hail cohesion team

June 20, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, June 20- The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has been urged to continue reigning in on people engaging in hate speech despite accusations that it is biased.

The National Civil Society Congress President Morris Odhiambo on Sunday urged NCIC Chairman Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia not to allow such allegations to stop the Commission from carrying out its mandate and taking action against those intent on funning ethnic hatred.

“We congratulate that body and urge the chair to continue doing his work which he was employed to do. He must not make any apologies to anybody for carrying out their mandate,” he said.

The Dr Kibunjia-led commission has lately come under fire for cracking the whip against ‘hate mongers’ with the No team saying it is being used by the government as a tool to intimidate them.

But Mr Odhiambo took issue with such politicians saying that while everyone has a duty to exercise freedom of speech, they should do so within certain limits and responsibilities.

“Clearly there have been threats against certain ethnic communities in specific areas of the country. To me that does not fall under the ambit of free speech so whereas we must maintain a balance between free speech and speech that may end up in violence, we must also be acting on those who are misusing the power of free speech,” he added.

The existence of the Commission, he underscored, was important particularly at a time when campaigns for and against the proposed Constitution were in top gear and also because the Attorney General Amos Wako had displayed a reluctance to prosecute offenders.

“The Attorney General once again has gone into one of his politically inspired hibernation. When the country is discussing very important issues, when there’s sabotage of the process, the AG is nowhere to be found. That’s why somebody has to take responsibility and that’s why we think the National Cohesion and Integration Commission must continue with its work,” the activist added.

Should politicians be allowed to continue making such disparaging remarks, Mr Odhiambo said Kenyans would only have themselves to blame when they result in violence against some ethnic communities as has been witnessed after previous general elections.

In a blog published elsewhere on this website, Dr Kibunjia has reiterated the need to effectively carry out NCIC’s objective of helping the country to attain long lasting peace, sustainable development and harmonious coexistence among Kenyans.

“Hate speech is only a small portion of our mandate which is to make Kenyans of all shades of ethnicity, religion and race tolerate each other and live in harmony. It’s a daunting task but necessary,” he said.

The chairman pointed out that the prevention of hate speech forms the basis that the country needs to achieve cohesion, build a culture of respect and accountability of one’s actions to all Kenyans.

“Our mandate is bigger but hate mongers need to pave way for Kenyans of goodwill,” he stated.

The commission has taken steps to educate the masses on what constitutes hate speech and the legal implications and has urged all members of the public to lend their support as they embark on this journey.

“The Commission has embarked in dealing with the hate speech and is calling upon Kenyans to help us end this vice which threatens our national unity. Stopping hate speech is a civic duty of all Kenyans,” Dr Kibunjia stressed.


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