28 January 2013

Kenya: 1,000 Hate Speech Police Get Recorders

Photo: © Julius Mwelu/IRIN
Youth carry crude weapons ready to fight during 2008 election violence (file photo).

THE National Cohesion and Integration Commission has equipped the police with recording devices to be used in taping politicians who in engage in hate speech and racial utterances ahead of the forthcoming general elections.

The NCIC has trained about 1,000 officers on how to use the recorders to gather electronic evidence against suspected perpetrators and secure prosecutions.

"In total we will train 1,200 officers drawn from the regular,administration police and the criminal investigations department as we increase law enforcement capacity in combating hate speech," said Robert Mabera of the NCIC legal and investigations department.

The recorders have been distributed to all the counties in readiness for the campaign period and according to NCIC the training of officers is almost complete.

Speaking at Garden hotel in Machakos town after the training of 53 officers from Makueni Kitui and Machakos counties,Mabera said it will now be easier to prosecute hate speech perpetrators using electronic evidence from the recording devices.

He said the recorders are of high quality and can effectively isolate the voices of suspected perpetrators which should provide tangible evidence in a court of law to warrant prosecution.

Flanked by the Machakos police boss,Richard Kerich, the NCIC official said hate mongers had previously escaped prosecution due to lack of evidence.

He added that in the past it was the evidence of the witness against that of the accused and normally it was written down and not recorded thus securing a prosecution was most difficult.

"We have also trained the officers on how to investigate hate speech and racial contempt in accordance with the NCIC Act," the official said.

He added that the commission would also equip and train law enforcers in the use of cameras in gathering evidence against suspects of the same and hailed the partnership between the police and the commission to battle such crimes.

Mabera said the NCIC was in partnership with the police to increase the latter's capacity in dealing with crimes involving utterances and gathering the electronic evidence required.

Most of the officers in the training said the gadgets were easy to use and portable thus were optimistic of securing prosecutions against hate speakers and those engaging in racial contempt.

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