, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 17 – The United States government has commended the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) for efforts in dealing with perpetrators of hate speech.
American Ambassador Michael Ranneberger who visited the commission’s headquarters on Thursday also applauded the government for its resolve to apprehend and prosecute those behind Sunday’s blasts at Uhuru Park which left six dead and scores injured.
Mr Ranneberger also defended the integration commission against accusations of applying double standards in dealing with incitement.
“They are targeting anyone who is involved in conducting hate speech. In English we say ‘let the chips fall where they may’; if it’s people on one side or the other conducting hate speech then they need to be held accountable,” he said.
The US envoy also promised American assistance to the commission to help it achieve its mandate saying all those who make hateful remarks should face the law whether they were political or religious leaders.
“The United States is supporting the work of the commission on national cohesion and integration by providing training for the commissioners on peace negotiation, strengthening the commission’s responsiveness to reported hate speech and implementing an early warning system to combat hate speech in the media,” he said.
He also said that the NCIC was crucial in ensuring that Kenya remained peaceful before and after the referendum.
“By protecting Kenya’s democracy from those who would seek to undermine it through intimidation or violence, the commission’s work is crucial in ensuring a free, fair and non violent referendum,” he said.
Mr Ranneberger also dismissed accusations that the US was interfering with Kenya’s internal affairs. He instead said Kenyans should accept positive criticism from the international community.
“In today’s globalised world everybody needs to listen to everybody. The US can’t stand alone and neither can Kenya. We (Americans) have taken heavy disapproval from the world about our activities in Iraq and Afghanistan; about our civil rights issues at home and about the global financial crisis. Kenyans and its leaders similarly need to listen to concerns that people have,” he said.
He also reiterated his past remarks on why Kenyans should pass the proposed Constitution saying it would bring reforms and a new political dispensation to the country.
“In our view, putting in place a new Constitution is critical to the future stability and prosperity of the country. Optimally obviously, it’s up to Kenyans to make that decision,” he said.
The chairman of the NCIC Mzalendo Kibunjia welcomed the assistance from the American government.
“We had requested for Sh450 million in this year’s budget but we only got Sh119 million so we need help to ensure we bridge the deficit in our work plan,” he said.