Saturday, October 31, 2015

Rein in hate mongers now or regret in 2017

In Summary
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was blunt in his assessment of the possibility that the 2017 election may be marked by large-scale violence.
In his address to members of civil society he warned, correctly, that the country was staring at grave danger because of the drumbeats of incitement being sounded by members of the political class.
This is a timely warning but it will serve little purpose if it is not followed by concrete action.
There is no question about it. In recent weeks and months, the nation has seen members of the political class — across the political divide — engaging in a campaign of intimidation and incitement with a ferocity that was last seen around the contentious 2005 constitutional referendum and in the run-up to the ill-fated 2007 presidential election.
One of the most alarming aspects of the situation is that the politicians have not been content merely to engage in speech bordering on demonisation of groups, they have actually incited supporters of the two main political alliances to prepare for violence.
Everybody that was in Kenya during the carnage that followed the 2007 election will understand the danger of the use of force as a tool of political mobilisation.
Hundreds of Kenyans lost their lives, hundreds of thousands were displaced and numerous others were injured and maimed during that disastrous two months before a peace deal was signed.
One post-election crisis was enough. All those with the power to prevent future violence must ensure this is done.
No sane Kenyan would want the country to ever sink to those depths in future.
Part of the extensive peace-building infrastructure adopted after the debacle, which was the 2007/8 election cycle was the adoption of instruments such as the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).
It is true that the body’s first aim should be to build social cohesion above all rather than to take up adversarial prosecutions.
But just as with the wave of corruption that has hit so many institutions, when clear offenders are not punished, this breeds a climate of impunity and promotes the dangerous speech that has now become common place.
It is essential that the NCIC act is amended to broaden the definition of offences because, narrowly defined, hate speech as an act of incitement against groups is difficult to prove due to the coded language used by politicians.
Above all, robust prosecution of offenders with an even hand, whether they be in government or the opposition and no matter their position in society, will help to quieten this most dangerous and rising drumbeat of incitement that has become commonplace among the politicians.

No comments :

Post a Comment