In approximately 50 days, Kenyans shall go to the ballot, and to mark a major milestone in shaping peace and cohesion the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has launched the first-ever Kenya National Action Plan against Hate speech aimed at taming hate mongers ahead of the August 9th polls.
The NCIC Chairperson Reverend Dr. Samuel Kobia speaking during the launch said ethnic and post-election violence is predicated by hate speech, ethnic balkanisation, “us vs them” narratives, and institutional mistrust narratives. Noting that we must shun these narratives at all costs.
“On Social media monitoring, through the support of the UN and in collaboration with a social media consortium, the commission will monitor and analyze social media platforms for mis/disinformation, hate speech and incitement that could trigger election violence,” Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia said.
Through the UWIANO Platform for Peace Messaging Hub, the Commission’s chairperson said, peace messages and narratives that will counter hate speech and incitement will be identified and disseminated through various online and offline media to address the potential of violence.
Lady Chief Justice Martha Koome and the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya who presided over the launch said the Judiciary has deployed special magistrates for hate speech cases and 12 hate speech cases currently are in court.
“When grappling with what to say in any given situation, a leader should use the simple but effective formula or guide: “Is it inflammatory? Is it discriminatory? Is it divisive?” If the answer to all three is in the affirmative, the speech is likely to be hateful, “ Lady Chief Justice Martha Koome said.
While there is no universal definition of Hate Speech, Lady Chief Justice Koome said that pointers as to what it constitutes do exist. For instance, using threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour, or displaying this in any written material; producing a programme which is threatening, abusive, or insulting where, taking into account all the circumstances, the intent is to stir ethnic hatred and contempt.
“We in leadership positions must always remember that we are privileged to be in these positions. It is not a right. We have the obligation and tremendous opportunity to influence many people’s lives positively,” Chief Justice Martha Koome
It is during electioneering period that the ugly heads of tribalism and ethnic hatred always raise themselves and rogue persons target and capitalize on them. If well executed, the Plan which has been developed through a review of laws and regulations against hate speech and consultations with relevant stakeholders will necessitate timely and effective interventions on hate speech.
Even as the NCIC does their part, let us remember that violence and hate speech increases hate. Let us embrace love for where there is love there is life.