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NCIC, clerics condemn heckling, hate speech

Sarah Ndungu and Mercy Mwai @PeopleDailyKe

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has condemned the heckling of Deputy President William Ruto in Kisumu and Nasa leaders in Baringo. Kaparo said the actions were alarming and dismissed them as “primitive acts” creeping back to politics.

“The heckling in Kisumu and Baringo should worry Kenyans,” said Kaparo. Meanwhile, religious leaders warned that the country risked plunging into violence if the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to conduct credible elections.

They also told politicians to desist from attacking the Judiciary. The leaders said the rising number of violent attacks on citizens under the guise of terrorism and banditry was aimed at ensuring that they do not participate in the election.

Consequently, the leaders also told IEBC to publish the voters register on their website as a demonstration of transparency. On hate speech, Kaparo said NCIC was monitoring 176 social media platforms being used to propagate hate speech.

Kaparo said the commission was tightening restriction on social media use ahead of the August 8 General Election. “We are keeping a close eye on political posts and “sensational reporting” on “unauthenticated digital platforms” such as those hosted on Facebook and Twitter,” he warned. NASA Politics and Citizens and Jubilee Party Supporters were listed as among five national Facebook forums whose administrators detectives were probing.

“We have intensified monitoring and investigation of hate speech both online and offline,” he said. Kaparo said the commission is tightening restriction on social media use ahead of the August 8 General Election.

The head of the commission charged with fostering cohesion said 36 county-based forums were also being closely monitored. “We have identified and flagged at least 176 social media accounts of most common perpetrators of hate speech,” he added.

The NCIC Act says any message that contains “inciting, threatening or discriminatory language that may, or is, intended to expose an individual or group of individuals to violence, hatred, hostility, discrimination or ridicule on the basis of ethnicity, tribe, race, colour, religion, gender or disability” constitute a breach of the law.

Kaparo warned Kenyans using social media to incite and engage in hate speech that his office was working with experts from cyber-crime unit to nab them. “Social media administrators will be held liable for hate speech post allowed in their forums,” warned the chairperson.

Other groups described as notorious are Kenya Political Forum, Group Kenya, Voice of Change and Langas Yetu. At county level, he identified, Uasin Gichu, Kapseret Constituency, Uasin Gishu County Discussion, the New Marsabit County For All, Bunge la Busia, Migori Revolutionist Council, Meru Economic and Political Facebook. He said NCIC might be forced to regulate social media during and after the August General Election if need be.

On their part, the religious leaders, speaking under the aegis of Multi Sectoral Forum told the poll agency to test and retest the Kenya Integrated Elections Management system to assure Kenyans there would be no recurrence of delay in announcement and transmission of results of the presidential poll as happened in 2013.

Led by Eldoret Bishop Cornelius Korir who represented the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) the leaders said there is need for all stakeholders to ensure elections will be credible.

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