The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has expressed concern over the slow pace at which hate mongers are convicted, saying it is likely to encourage impunity.
Commission chairman Francis Ole Kaparo said the commission is concerned on the slow prosecution of hate speech cases.
He asked the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Judiciary to expedite them.
“I am not frustrated, I am concerned, very concerned about the delay in dealing with cases of hate speech,” Mr Kaparo said in Nakuru on Monday.
According to the NCIC boss, some of the cases date back to the last elections. Delay in convicting hate mongers, according to Mr Kaparo, erodes confidence in the justice system.
He said the situation was even more worrying, with the 2017 election drawing closer.
“Now we are going into another election period, you see what that means is that if you don’t deal with these things promptly and speedily, people will come to the conclusion that even if you are charged, the matter will never be decided in one way or the other,” he stated at the Bontana Hotel where the NCIC team was attending a peace forum.
He said delayed prosecution or lack of it leads to impunity.
“That is why I have said we are talking to stakeholders, the prosecutors, the courts and yes, we are also talking to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. We will also talk to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission as far as the integrity issues are concerned,” he stated.
The commission also intends to hold talks with the Registrar of Political parties on the need to enforce the code of conduct of political parties.
“…so it’s going to be a multisectoral approach; as a commission, we are determined to secure this country before, during and after the elections,” Mr Kaparo stated.
The commission has also put members of the public on notice regarding the spread of hate speech through social media.
Commissioner Linda Ochiel said the commission has begun a rigorous monitoring process to pick out hate mongers on social media.
“It is not only politicians that we are going to focus on on issues of hate speech. The NCIC Act is very clear on distribution of hate material; those using social media to spread incitement and hate speech will be held to account by NCIC,” she said.
“We would like to caution Kenyans that if someone receives information that is likely to incite ethnic contempt, if they distribute it, they will be held liable. Even if they did not originate it, they will be prosecuted,” she said.
The commission plans to buy some 1,200 recorders, which its officers shall use to record utterances made in political rallies for purposes of monitoring.
The commission is also working closely with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and holding talks with telephone service providers with a view to ensure that any hate messages through mobile phones are tracked and those responsible held accountable.