NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko criticised politicians who claim the current efforts to curb hate speech are meant to limit people’s right.
The Director of Public Prosecutions in response to Opposition leader Raila Odinga says it was disheartening for him to claim not to understand the impact of hate speech under the cover of freedom of expression, warning that no one would be spared.
“Even our Constitution, while guaranteeing to the right to freedom of expression in Article 33 and the right to media freedom, expressly exempt hate speech and propagation to war,” he said. “Hate speech is not protected constitutionally… countries, communities have been brought down.”
He said 90 percent of hate speech cases involved sitting politicians saying, “It is rather strange to hear some of them say that they do not understand what this offence of hate speech is about… if that sentiment came from a person who did not go to school, it may be understood. Ignorance of the law is not a defence.”
Tobiko said “it was sad,” for politicians to turn a blind eye to the requirements of the Constitution in regards to national unity saying they would apply the law equally among all citizens.
The Director of Criminal of Investigations Ndegwa Muhoro on his part warned politicians against engaging in hate speech, saying they will face the full force of the law.
The DCI boss says stringent measures are in place to ensure law and order are maintained, more so now that the country is heading to an electioneering period.
“As we get to 2017, we want to put caution, very seriously on any person who wants to peddle hate speech. We are not going to be pulled to a conflict situation by people advancing their own political interests,” he warned.
“We have a country to protect and we will not take any sides while fighting the menace.”
He said the greatest threat to the national security, “at the moment, is the politicians” warning that they will not be allowed to “destroy the country.”
The two were speaking on Friday, after a meeting with the Chairperson of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission Francis ole Kaparo.
Kaparo, who shares their sentiments, says a major stakeholders meeting will be held in two weeks time, to sensitise Kenyans on the need to abhor the menace, which can easily disintegrate the country further.
“We must socialise hate mongers with the law. The law will be applied to everybody,” he said. “There is nothing spectacular about hate speech… you are only required to be a good citizen.”
Early this year, eight politicians who were accused of hate speech, were held in police custody for four days, in what was seen as a firm statement against the trend.