Rashid Abubakar @MountKenyaTimes
Thirteen months to the next General Elections, authorities are urging caution over proliferation of hate speech enabled by digital platforms in the country.
The warning comes in the wake of a massive emergence of digital platforms, which authorities say are providing space to hate monger.
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i speaking yesterday at the Bomas of Kenya during the launch of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) strategic plan said Kenya’s social media will not be shut down over hate speech.
The CS, however, warned of dire consequences’ to those who have already fallen into the temptation of misusing social and the internet.
“We will be very ruthless when it comes to those who interfere with others’ freedoms…we will not hesitate or be intimidated by pressures or complaints from anybody. We will protect Kenya,” he said.
Dr. Matiang’i said that the government would uphold both individual and collective freedoms for its citizens.
“…we will not do things like switching off internet, it will not happen here.. we will not harass people but because we are confident, we will act according to the law and call people to account,” he added.
Matiangi said that all Kenyans will be protected from any individual who engages in hate speech and the security sector had formed a multi-agency team that had mapped the country, looked at hotspots and areas that may pose security challenges.
“I want to assure the country that we will do our part and role.. This country is a democracy. We are a democracy by choice and it was not imposed on us,” he said.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) strategic plan runs from 2025 to 2025 and outlines strategies that that will enhance awareness creation, issue-based politics as opposed to ethnic politics, inclusion and diversity and delivery of peaceful electoral processes as the country prepares for the 2022 election.
The CS’ sentiments came a week after the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji assured Kenyans that the State would tame hate mongers and deal with those caught up in electoral offenses.
Haji vowed that politicians would be charged over hate speech, voter intimidation, and bribery if found on the wrong also noted that police will account for human rights abuse
“Violence and such crimes can be reduced during elections,” he stated.
The NCIC in May raised concerns about the increased cases of hate speech, incitement and political intolerance ahead of the 2022 General Elections.
The commission raised a red flag over the escalating ethnic violence in Marsabit, Turkana and West Pokot counties.
Chairman Samuel Kobia said that politicians have started beating drums of war by inciting their supporters in what he fears may spark violence.
Dr Kobia disclosed the commission has deployed a robust detection, reporting and investigation mechanism to nab hatemongers.
NCIC in January unveiled a plan to curb hate speech and incitement ahead of the BBI referendum and 2022 election campaigns.
At the same time, the commission released statistics indicating it has handled 434 hate cases since 2017.
Some 185 of the total cases were reported in 2017 alone – the election year – with 85 reported in 2018, 75 in 2019 and 86 last year.