16 April 2014

Kenya: Lawyers Warned Against Crackdown Hatred

Photo: Capital FM
Kenya concerned over return of hate speech on social media.

Nairobi Kenya — The National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring has revealed that it has written to four prominent lawyers warning them against hate speech over the ongoing anti-terror crackdown.

The committee accuses the lawyers of fuelling hatred amongst Kenyans.

Briefing journalists on Wednesday, the committee chairperson Mary Ombara noted that use of hate speech more so in social media has increased since the anti-terror operation started, with critics saying it only targets specific groups of people.

"Leaders and professionals from specific communities deliberately use media and other public platforms to perpetrate messages of an artificial religious conflict; these also purport Government bias, discrimination and excesses on normal security operations," she stated.

"They tend to appeal to public emotion through unsubstantiated media statements such as; 'we are treated as 4th class citizens', 'security operation targets us' or 'we are restricted in concentration camps."

A section of members of the public where the operation has been enhanced have complained of being harassed by police whom they even allege that have been extorting money from them.

The Government insists the operation will continue saying police were carrying it out in a professional manner. Since the operation started over 3,000 people have undergone the screening process while others have been arraigned on court.

Eighty two aliens have since been deported to Somali and illegal fire arms recovered.

As protective measure, Ombara advised that all Government buildings should give security utmost priority.

"All premises are required to install ultra-modern electronic screening systems to help identify suspects in the national security data base," she stated.

Despite complaints against the operation, Brand Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mary Kimonye said the country's image has not been dented since terrorism is a common threat to all nations globally.

She however cautioned leaders from using language that may incite people against each other, saying the Government action was prompted by the situation which if not addressed could have affected the country negatively.

"What we are seeing despite all these challenges, the economy remains very resilient which shows that the world understand what is happening because it's not a Kenyan issue," she said.

"It's only that Kenya has taken the lead and decided to punch above her weight in dealing with this security issue."

Police have since enhanced the Usalama Watch operation, which has been extended to other areas within the city other than Eastleigh in efforts to boost the country's security which had deteriorated.

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