State tightens the noose for hate mongers ahead of August polls

State tightens the noose for hate mongers ahead of August polls

Politicians, activists, bloggers and journalists who will be found liable for spreading hate speech risks a five year in jail term,  Sh5 million penalty or both, if a proposed bill is enacted into  law by parliament.

The National Integration and Cohesion (Amendment) Bill 2017 which seeks to rein on all suspected hatemongers states if established that a politician incited his /her supporters to cause violence, the individual risks being barred from seeking any elective seat for subsequent five years.

No hate monger, convicted or otherwise, is currently barred from an election.

“Any person convicted of an offence under this section shall not be eligible to hold any public, political or elective office for a period of five years from the date of conviction,” the Bill states.

If approved by Parliament, media practitioners will be penalised as much as Sh10 million if found guilty of publishing and disseminating hate speech.

READ MORE: MPs summon governors and parastatals as NCIC tighten noose on tribalism

“A newspaper, radio station, television station, website administrator or other media enterprise that publishes or otherwise disseminates any of the acts under subsection (1) commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh10 million.” The bill further reads.

Under the current law, the NCIC Act of 2008, convicts are liable to a Sh1 million fine, three years’ imprisonment or both.

In the sweeping changes to the law before the  Legal affairs committee chaired by Ainakbmoi MP Samuel Chepkonga convicted bloggers, who originate hateful information, would be fined as much as Sh10 million.

According to the Legal affairs committee, the existing law, so ambiguous that many culprits evade punishment.

However, the amendment bill defines hate speech as, among other things, “the use of threatening, abusive, insulting, vilifying words or behaviour as well as the displays of any written material or dissemination of any ideas based on ethnic superiority or inferiority”.

READ MORE: NCIC now wants vernacular languages banned in offices

For instance, the use of coded language, acts or gestures could be construed as hate speech.

The bill states hate speech may include presenting or directing a public performance of a play with gestures depicting ethnic hatred.

It covers distributing, showing or playing a recording that contains ethnic propaganda or stereotyping, or contains gestures depicting ethnic hatred.

In a bid to stem hate-mongering on the internet, any misuse of vibrant social media, targeting Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp lovers will attract a penalty of as much as Sh5 million if found guilty of spreading and sharing hate messages.

READ MORE: Negative Ethnicity on social media greatest threat to peace, NCIC warns

The bill is set for the first debate. It could be voted on in May, or it could be delayed due to election calendar.

If processed faster, a host of politicians from both Jubilee and opposition will be the first casualties of the application of the law.

However, the Bill also takes away powers to nominate NCIC commissioners from Parliament and gives them to the Public Service Commission, an arm of government.

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