Kenyan police to record ‘hate speech’

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Kenyan police officers plan to record statements that amount to hate speech and use the audio recordings as evidence in court, in a bid to ensure a peace in the run up to the 2013 election.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) late last week gave police officers audio recorders to monitor hate speech across the country during political campaigns.

A total of 80 police officers have also been trained on the use of the equipment for purposes of monitoring political rallies for hate speech.

The recorders were issued by the NCIC Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia during a two day training for police officers on how to monitor hate speech. The recorders are powerful enough to pick sound from as far as 50 metres and can store up to six hours of audio.
“The recording will then be transcribed and analysed to check if it has contradicted provisions on hate speech. We will have secured evidence that can be used in court,” said Kibunjia.

The training offered by the NCIC in partnership with the Kenya Police has so far equipped 270 security officers with skills on on how to detect and monitor hate speech. The training is targeted at Officers Commanding Stations (OCSs) and Divisional Criminal Investigations Officers (DCIOs) .

The 2008 Post Election Violence was partly blamed on utterances made by the public and at times influential politicians.

The NCIC is seeking to avert a similar scenario by monitoring the statements of politicians as they campaign ahead of the elections. Just last week, a High Court paved way for the arrest and prosecution of Environment Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere for hate speech.

The court dismissed the minister’s petition that sought to block the NCIC , the Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from filing charges against him.

The minister who is also a member of parliament is alleged to have made a statement that could be regarded as incitement during a by-election campaign in his constituency in Coastal Kenya in July 2010.

Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said the police are already monitoring the political temperatures in the country and would issue early warnings on any plans of violence ahead of the 2013 March 4 General Elections.

The NCIC and the Police have warned both politicians and members of the public to watch the utterances they make and report people who make statements that could undermine peace in the country ahead of the elections.