Politicians to be barred from August polls following tough new laws

The National Integration and Cohesion (Amendment) Bill 2017 proposes such politicians to be barred from seeking office for five years.

Politicians Aisha Jumwa, Florence Mutua, Johnstone Muthama, Junet Mohammed, Timothy Bosire, Ferdinand Waititu, Moses Kuria and Kimani Ngunjiri stand in the dock at the Milimani Law Courts over alleged hate speech.

The law not only targets politicians but also journalists, bloggers and media houses.

It proposes sending them to jail for five years, fining them Sh5 million, or both.

Media houses and bloggers will be required to part with as much as Sh10 million if found guilty of publishing and disseminating hate speech.

Weak laws

The current National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Act of 2008 are seen as weak since convicts are liable to only a Sh1 million fine, three years' imprisonment or both.

Last month, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu were acquitted of hate speech charges on February 20 for lack of evidence.

Kuria and Waititu were facing incitement to violence charges and were accused of uttering words tantamount to bringing death to Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga last year at Kasarani during a thanksgiving service for Mr Njogu wa Njoroge.

The court also ruled that the English and Kiswahili translations provided as part of the evidence were incorrect.

No convictions

Critics of the proposed new law however argue that the move is inconsequential since no one has ever been convicted of hate speech, despite several cases having been filed in court.

NCIC bosses have often complained the current definition of hate speech, which was enacted after the 2007-08 post-election violence, is too narrow.

Consequently, many hate offenders have walked free, despite creating a firestorm and escalating antagonism.

Last week,NCIC expressed its disappointment at the lack of convictions in hate speech cases.

Chairman Francis ole Kaparo said the commission had done its part in making evidence available, but has yet to see high-profile convictions.

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