19 December 2012

Kenya: Politicians Coding Hate Speech - Police

Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio said some political aspirants are using wireless appliances to spread malicious messages and ... ( Resource: Kenyan Politicians Warned Over Hate Speech )

Nairobi — Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino on Wednesday told journalists that more intelligence officers had been deployed to the grassroots to monitor politicians who mask tribal undertones using coded language.

Owino said that police would keep the developing trend in check to ensure that it does not spiral out of control and cause a repeat of the bloodshed that was witnessed in 2008.

He said that officers who are conversant with such language would be posted to each region of the country, as political campaigns gained momentum.

"We will closely work with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and post individuals who understand those languages in those particular regions just for the purpose of this election," he said.

This follows an announcement by the NCIC that it was becoming difficult to pick out hate speech because of the coded language.

NCIC vice chairperson Millie Lwanga claimed that politicians were using stereotypes and heavy vernacular parables to hide their hate messages.

"Kenyans have become very aware that they are being monitored, especially politicians, so they are coding their languages and are using heavy vernacular proverbs that make it hard for the police and NCIC monitors to quickly identify hate speech," she said.

She however added that the commission had conducted a study indicating some of the gestures and words used to cover divisive and tribal statements saying it would soon share the findings.

Lwanga also said that the NCIC had forwarded several files of those suspected of hate speech to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

She however declined to give the numbers saying they kept changing because investigations were still ongoing.

"There are a number of other people who have been identified. When people's speeches border on incitement but do not amount to ethnic contempt or hate speech we send them cessation notices," she maintained.

Owino in the meantime added that there would be an increase in the number of traffic police officers on the road as well as those on patrol as the festivities drew close.

He noted that the number of insecurity incidents and road accidents normally increased during the holidays urging Kenyans to exercise sobriety.

"Even the robbers want to enjoy Christmas so we must expect these things so we will beef our security. But we are asking Kenyans to be responsible because we cannot afford to have policemen in every individual's pocket that we will be canning you when you misbehave," he retorted.

He also warned Kenyans against harassing and targeting members of the Somali community, who live in Eastleigh, saying it was impossible to pick out a terrorist through the colour of their skin.

He reminded them that the rising acts of terror in the country were as a result of Kenya's military offensive in Somalia.

"If you want to lose weight today you must go through a lot of pain; if you were to pass an examination you have to burn your lamp and if we are to manage the terror problems originating from Somalia then we have to undertake the pains of the attacks that we have seen," he said.

He added that the police would continue conducting regular swoops and operations to net illegal immigrants in the country.

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