NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has strongly defended itself against accusations of redundancy, saying it is not in the business of issuing threats and warnings to potential hate speech mongers.
NCIC chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia told journalists on Wednesday that the commission’s works should not be judged by the number of people it had prosecuted for hate speech because that was not its primary duty.
He added that the commission would not baby-sit Kenyans saying that they should exercise self restraint.
“We want this to be a society issue because we cannot put 40 million Kenyans who decide to incite in prison, even if we use all the prisons in the world,” he quipped.
“And we are not in the business of warning and issuing threats because that is not our business,” he added.
Kibunjia however said that the commission had for the past two months been investigating four Kenyans who are suspected of spewing vitriol on social media.
Although he declined to name the four individuals, he said they would serve as an example to other would-be hate mongers if they are found guilty.
“But is the work of stopping people from inciting others on social media the work of one institution or is it a societal responsibility? What is your responsibility as an individual because this is an example of how our society has no values,” he countered.
The NCIC has in recent pasts been criticised by a cross-section of Kenyans who have accused it of failing to successfully push for the prosecution of those spreading hate speech.
Kibunjia however challenged the criticism saying his commission did not have prosecutorial powers and that prosecution wasn’t the best way to fight hate speech.
He also said that the commission did not always publicise some of the work it had done so far, including instances where it had pushed for the closure of blogs that had been spreading hate.
“We have not done 100 percent but we have made a difference and prosecution is the last thing we do. You must try as much as possible to reconcile but I know Kenyans want blood,” he noted.
Kibunjia further asked President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to tone down their political rhetoric adding that they should stop heated exchanges over the outcome of an ongoing petition at the Supreme Court.
He urged the two to start calling for calm and peace among their supporters to promote national cohesion.
Kibunjia at the same time expressed concern at the ethnic divisions that had cropped up after the declaration of the poll outcome.
“Elections are not like a wedding reception where everybody is happy and singing. Elections are emotive and we must remain alive to the fact that emotions remain high and present easy prey to negative manipulation,” he said.
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