NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – The government says it will closely monitor social media users and take action against those who incite others and propagate hate speech and tribalism.
Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said that the use of abusive, insulting or threatening words is an offence and that anyone culpable is liable to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or a prison term of three years or both.
“I saw a very bad tweet yesterday. There is a process called triangulation and it is actually very easy to know who is doing it. Most people probably are doing thinking it is not easy knowing who they are,” he said.
“We however have the capacity to do triangulation and very easily get to the person and that is what we are going to do with the names that we have,” he stated.
He pointed out that the ministry has already identified some of the suspects who will be arrested and prosecuted once evidence on their activities is compiled.
“If we begin to prosecute for example in the blogs, we would actually finish all the bloggers that we have out there and even you yourselves maybe said something in your blogs. So it is good that we create awareness. If you look at the effort we have made in the SMS, this was a crisis and we have completely finished it,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino who stressed the importance of everyone taking personal responsibility of how they use the social media especially during this election year.
“We are not going to have a policeman posted behind every Kenyan who is going to listen to what he is saying. That is not practical. What we have to be looking at is the moral status, your responsibility as an individual,” he said.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is in the meantime due to make the voter register public next week.
IEBC Commissioner Wangai Muthoni said registered voters should verify their details either by SMS or at their polling centres.
She urged those who registered to cross-check their details before the records are closed.
“We hope to get the voter register public by January 13 and we have two methods of verification of your registration, one will be by SMS messaging and the other one will be by physically visiting the polling or registration centre that you used to register,” he said.
She further pointed out that those who will vote and are double registered will be slapped with a Sh100,000 fine or a prison term of one year.
Muthoni also called on all parties to ensure that their primaries set for next week Thursday are conducted in a peaceful manner.
“We are going to do a good job, we will have a memorable election this year and it will be a gift to this country in our 50th year of independence as well as the first election on the new constitution,” she stated.
“We are asking you that as we did with the voter registration, we approach these processes with maturity starting with party primaries and thereafter the final nominations and the elections which are coming very soon.”