Kenya rights watchdog welcomes arrests

June 15, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 15 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has welcomed the arrest of three Parliamentarians over allegations of spreading hate speech saying such action would deter incitement to violence.

Chairperson Florence Jaoko on Tuesday commended the government for the action and said “security organs should be able to investigate independently.” Mrs Jaoko said tough government action on hate speech mongers would pre-empt incitement to violence during and after the referendum.

“We even expect that if those in the Yes team are inciting people they too will be arrested,” she said.

Mrs Jaoko said the government should reign on hate speech to ensure sobriety and tolerance during the ongoing campaigns on the Proposed Constitution.

“Whether it is church leaders or politicians being intolerant the law must take its course,” added Mrs Jaoko in a press conference.

MPs Fred Kapondi, Joshua Kutuny and Wilfred Machage were arrested on Tuesday after recommendations by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and are expected to be arraigned in court on Wednesday.

The three were accused of preaching ethic incitement during the launch of the NO campaign secretariat last week. They were quoted saying that certain communities in the Rift valley and Nyanza should be prepared to leave the regions to the natives should the draft constitution pass in the August referendum, saying provisions on the land chapter empowers the National Land Commission to sort out land conflicts.

In his Madaraka day speech two weeks ago, President Mwai Kibaki ordered the NCIC to clamp on hate speech mongers and ensure tolerance during the campaigns. The cohesion team later announced it would be partnering with the police to deal with the vice.

Higher Education Minister William Ruto who is the political leader of the NO camp appeared before the cohesion commission early on Tuesday but denied accusations of hate speech.

The arrests came barely two days after a grenade attack at a No rally that left six people dead and over 100 injured at Uhuru Park attracting nationwide condemnation and calls for action from the security organs.

The human rights body condemned the Sunday tragedy and called for speedy investigations. Mrs Jaoko called for “calm and restraint from the Yes and No sides as well as the general public, as we await the outcomes of the investigations.”

“We must stand united, in peace, solidarity and patriotism because each and everyone us, is first and foremost a Kenyan. Let us create a Kenya that we can all be proud of. Let us conduct ourselves, on our journey to the referendum with tolerance, honesty and respect,” she said.


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