National Steering Committee on Election Monitoring
NATIONAL COHESION AND INTEGRATION COMMISSION (NCIC)
NCIC Press Statement
Presented at the Launch of the
National Steering Committee on Election Monitoring
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) is honoured to be part of the National Steering Committee on Election Monitoring.
When it was established under the National Cohesion and Integration (NCI) Act 2008, enacted after the 2007 post-election crisis and the subsequent political negotiations, the NCIC’s objectives and purpose, as provided for in section 25 of the Act, is to facilitate and promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful co-existence between persons of the different ethnic, racial communities of Kenya, and to advise the Government on all aspects thereof.
Section 13 of the NCI Act states that a person commits an offence if they:-
1. Use threatening, abusive, insulting words or actions;
2. Display, publish or distribute written material,
3. Present, direct, provide or produce a programme
Intending to stir up ethnic hatred or having regard to all circumstances ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up.
Guidelines On Hate Speech Monitoring
In line with its mandate, the Commission was required to develop guidelines for media houses on hate speech as per provisions of the NCI Act. This led to the development of various strategies namely tools such as guidelines on monitoring hate speech, particularly in the electronic media in Kenya; definition of what Hate Speech is all about and how to file a complaint to the Commission (cf: NCIC website).
Since the media plays a vital role in promoting freedom of expression and equality, NCIC felt that it was imperative that the Commission continuously engages with the media practitioners namely the correspondents, journalists, editors and media owners in the development of Guidelines On hate speech. This is because by that time the Commission had already started receiving reports that started to raise concerns on the role of the local FM stations (especially vernacular radio stations) that were seen to be participating in incitement to hatred through their programming and reporting.
Unfortunately, this has almost earned us a nickname where people refer to us as the “Hate Commission”, but today I wish to reaffirm to you that the guidelines underscore the commitment by NCIC to firmly address negative ethnicity and thereby provide an enabling environment for building nationhood by linking all sections and laws relating to media and hate speech namely the Constitution’s Article 33 (2), the Penal Code’s Section 96 and 77 and the Media Act.
MOU, Workshops and Conferences
NCIC has signed an MOU with the Media Council of Kenya to collaborate in elections ‘media monitoring: of hate speech. The commissioners’ have also held countless sensitization workshops and National Conferences to unpack Hate Speech. Specifically, a major conference was held in June 2010, bringing together law enforcement officers, media practitioners and other key stakeholders to discuss the process of navigating hate speech in the face of freedom of expression a head of the Referendum Elections.
Another major workshop has also just been concluded in Naivasha bringing together over fifty leaders from all the registered political parties. Carried out in collaboration with IEBC and NDI, the workshop sensitized political parties’ leaders to employ election
campaign strategies that are devoid of hate speech, and that seek to
create a free, fair, objective and equal-opportunity playing ground
for all political leaders. At the end of the workshop, the following resolutions were passed:
1. Building responsive political parties that are aware of
the need to include issues of hate speech in their policies and
campaign strategies as well as inculcating equal opportunities for all
aspiring candidates and members.
2.Signing of the declaration by political parties to
infuse and uphold national integration principles into their party
policies and campaign strategies.
3.Signing Kenya Kwanza Charter by all the participants.
NCIC has also developed a Training Manual on the Enforcement of the law on hate speech. This is intended to better prepare police officers, particularly Officers in Charge of Stations (OCSs), Officers Commanding Police Divisions (OCPDs), officers in charge of crime investigators and prosecutors to professionally deal with incidences of hate speech.
And only yesterday, 3rd July 212, the Commission also commissioned NCIC Goodwill Ambassadors who will strive at assisting the public on a voter education that will help build lasting peace,
cohesion, integration and inclusiveness in all Kenya’s political and developmental
Currently, the commission is working together with the Kenya Police to ensure they are well trained in curbing hate speech at all levels, particularly during the various campaigns being held countrywide. To date, NCIC has conducted a number of police trainings targeting Officers Commanding Stations (OCSs) and Divisional Criminal Investigations Officers (DCIOs) with the objectives of providing important and relevant information on the offences of ethnic discrimination and hate speech, sensitizing the police officers on theses offences as well as providing a training forum on the investigation of hate speech and other offences under the NCI Act throughout the country.
What has NCIC learnt over the years as the Commission in the area of hate Speech?
That, even though the Commission has investigated several cases and individuals have been charged based on the provisions relating to hate speech, the Commission is yet to be given “teeth” to prosecute the offenders. We have since therefore reinforced this through a tripartite task force that brings together the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, namely the Director of Public Prosecution and the Kenya Police Service, whose objective is to provide guidance in the enforcement of the legal provisions relating to hate speech.
One of the main roles of the Kenya Police Service it to render support to government agencies in the enforcement of administrative functions and the exercise of lawful duties. Therefore this partnership is a welcome move by the Commission in that it will strengthen our work in the area of hate Speech. Since Kenya is going to yet another Election, the job of the Commissioners is very well cut for them.
Going by our recent desk-top study on the use of ethnic stereotypes and coded language as a way of advancing hate speech in Kenya, we found out that coded language, stereotyping and hate speech are inter-married in a special way. People who advance hate speeches are quite aware of what they are doing and the implications of the same. They are aware of what the law stipulates on the same and the penalties involved. Regardless of this, they still proceed to produce, and in collaboration with various media houses, air songs and content whose content has been found to be a big threat to peaceful and harmonious co-existence.
Thus, the threats to national cohesion tend to assume many forms, and by being part of this committee we are cognisant to the fact that we can work together with every Kenyan who desires to be part of a cohesive and integrated new Kenyan society.
Various cessation notices will be issued to ensure that anyone who spreads hate speech in any form faces the law.
The NCIC staff and the goodwill ambassadors will continue to hold impromptu monitoring sessions during the election campaigns and other public rallies and musicals countrywide. In essence, NCIC will strive to partner with and continue to support all peace-loving Kenyans to ensure we all deliver a peaceful and harmonies upcoming elections coming elections.
Dr. Mzalendo Kibunjia, EBS