NCIC on the Fight against Hate Speech in Kenya

The NCIC continues to discharge its mandate fully without favouring any particular political affiliation. The existing records of previously handled and the ongoing court cases are overwhelming evidence to attest to the Commission’s impartiality.

We acknowledge a few challenges, stemming from existing gaps in the NCI Act 2008, specifically in regards to the definition of hate speech. In Section 13, hate speech is defined as “the use of threatening, abusive or insultive words or behavior with an intention of stirring up ethnic hatred”. Not all statements made by the politicians are covered in the above definition. Politicians and their supporters quickly mastered what constitutes hate speech under the NCI Act, and instead use words and utterances that do not fall within the Act. Often times, they are classified as incitement to violence, which is a crime under the Penal Code. They, therefore, fall in the jurisdiction of the police. 

Of late, the political class has also learned about incitement to violence, so they use foul language that constitutes insults that are not covered in any penal statutes. To address such challenges, the Commission proposed significant amendments to the Act that will help to seal all the existing loopholes.

But that notwithstanding, NCIC has continued to collaborate with the police to investigate and take to court people arrested with incitement to violence offenses. These include cases related to the use of vulgar language.  

We acknowledge that matters of creating a nation and a people with a national identity is a major issue. It requires utmost political goodwill and support. In our case, the support for creating a more cohesive national society is constantly undermined by irresponsible politicians. This is exacerbated by sections of their supporters who constantly abet their horrific utterances.

For the fight to be won, the public must desist from being the drivers of hate and worshipers of war-mongers. Safeguarding peace is a collective responsibility. It is not a time to apportion blame, but we take the opportunity to urge all Kenyans to uphold peace, tolerance for diversity, and jealously guard the cohesion fabric of our nation.




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