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Kenya: Government working on plans to mitigate hate speech ahead of 2022 polls

October 25, 2021

By Samuel Ouma [caption id="attachment_90113" align="alignnone" width="976"] Chief Justice Martha Koome[/caption] The Kenyan government is working on a plan to establish special courts to tackle hate speeches before, during, and after elections. Addressing journalists in Nairobi on Monday, Chief Justice Martha Koome said that the five special courts will be set up in Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nairobi, and Mombasa. "We are concerned about hate speech issues." "I'm going to present a request to the judiciary's leadership committee to establish a specialist court to deal with cases of hate speech," she said. Once the courts in the aforementioned locations are established, they will be expanded to more areas. "If necessary, we will identify other hotspots and operationalize accords in those hotspots to deal with hate speech so that it is dealt with swiftly and in accordance with the law," added the Chief Justice. This comes a month ago after the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) warned politicians against fueling chaos in regions they consider their political bedrocks ostensibly to lock out competitors. The commission’s chairperson Samuel Kobia vowed to take action against leaders, causing division among people. "We must keep in mind that it is this tendency that will determine whether things improve or worse in the run-up to the 2022 elections." If we set a precedent for tolerance, we can be confident that our country will be safe and peaceful, but if we continue to tolerate abuses and intolerance, we will be heading in the wrong direction," Kobia said. He emphasized that all politicians have the freedom to express their thoughts throughout the country without fear of intimidation or violence from opponents. Early September, Deputy President William Ruto’s convoy was stoned in Nyeri, central Kenya, by the opponent's supporters. A group of youths obstructed roads to prevent him from reaching Kieni, where he was scheduled to attend a fundraising event.

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