NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 27 – The High Court on Friday paved way for the arrest and prosecution of Environment Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere for hate speech.
Justice David Majanja has dismissed the minister’s petition that sought to block the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from filing charges against him.
In his ruling, Justice Majanja said unregulated speech would lead to social and political conflagration.
“The court cannot interfere with the roles of NCIC and DPP unless it s demonstrated that they are not acting within the law,” Justice Majanja ruled.
The Matuga MP is alleged to have made speech, during a by-election campaign in his constituency in July 2010, to the effect that indigenous Coastal people have been oppressed by the Arabs.
The Environment Minister had moved to court in a bid to block the chief inspector of police Robert Mabera, Commissioner of Police, NCIC, the Attorney General and DPP from arresting and prosecuting him.
In the application, Mwakwere states that in the speech, he was airing his views on the historical injustices suffered by his people, which is a constitutional right guaranteed to him under Article 27 of the Constitution.
In his court papers Mwakwere had expressed fears that his arrest would cause him to vacate his cabinet position.
If Mwakwere is charged, he will have to step aside from his Cabinet position until the case is heard and determined.
The enactment of the NCIC Act in December 2008 saw assistant Minister Wilfred Machage and Mt. Elgon MP Fred Kapondi charged with hate speech, the three were however acquitted for lack of evidence.
The Act makes hate speech punishable by fine or jail or both.
Incitement to violence attracts five years’ imprisonment without the option of a fine.
Under the National Cohesion and Integration Act, making a hate speech that stirs ethnic hatred attracts a maximum Sh1 million fine, or three years in jail or both.