Kenya sets up hate speech response system

July 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) is now designing an early warning and response system for monitoring referendum campaigns to prevent a repeat of the inter-community hostilities that followed the 2005 referendum.

The commission together with the other Agenda IV institutions has also set up a toll-free SMS number where Kenyans can report any emerging concerns regarding the campaigns.

NCIC Vice Chairperson Mary Onyango said on Monday that the commission would use the information to keep a keen eye on all potentially volatile areas, especially with the referendum campaigns hitting the home stretch.

“The number is 6397 and Kenyans will use it to us tell about any problems that could be brewing up in specific areas. We will then verify this information with the District Peace Committees together with Peace-Net (Kenya) and the National Steering Committee on Peace Building and Conflict Management,” she said.

Ms Onyango said the commission would engage all political parties in a pre-referendum conference to counsel them on the importance of using their rallies to ensure a cohesive society after the August 4 vote.

“It’s going to be this Thursday and Friday. We are going to discuss with both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ proponents how we are going to be able to deliver to Kenyans a peaceful referendum,” she said.

The integration commission was also in agreement with those alleging that Internally Displaced Persons were being threatened and intimidated to vote a certain way.

Ms Onyango said that the commission would visit particular IDP camps to investigate the claims.

“We’ve heard about the leaflets in the Rift Valley and we’ve had arrests being made. The other day there was the report from Southern Consulting which also highlighted some areas so we have looked at these areas and passed them onto police to investigate,” she said.

She further commended politicians and civic leaders for toning down their language in their referendum campaigns, but regretted that not all of them had chosen the peace route.

“We know that there are still those who are making remarks that are not conducive to integration and cohesion and we are dealing with such persons,” she said but declined to reveal their identities.

“Unfortunately given the fact those are processes that are underway plus the commission’s position on how we will conduct our processes I am constrained not to discuss that matter in detail.”

Ms Onyango was speaking after a training session for journalists seeking to establish the role and place of the media in promoting peace and cohesion.


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