Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has asserted that the government will not resort to internet shutdown to tame hate speech.
Speaking during the launch of the NCIC strategic plan on Wednesday, Matiang’i said that they would not resort to internet shutdown though they would be ruthless with people spreading hate speech.
Act according to the law
“We will not hesitate or be intimidated by complaints and pressures from anybody,” he said, “We will not do things like switching off the internet. That will not happen here. We will also not harass people but we will act according to the law and call people to account.”
Matiang’i said they would accord those who broke the law a meeting between them and the law, stating that security agencies were doing their part ahead of the 2022 General Elections.
“I want to assure Kenyans that we are doing our part and role…This country is a democracy…We will uphold individual and collective freedoms, including freedom of speech.” He said.
Volatile time for Kenya
Heading into the election period, social media threats are places where many spread hate speech often grow.
Last month, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission raised concerns about increased hate speech, political intolerance and incitement ahead of the General Elections.
The Commissions cited ethnic violence escalating in Turkana, West Pokot and Marsabit counties as examples of growing political vile.
Concerns over violence
NCIC Chair, Samuel Kobia, said that politicians had already started beating war drums, pitting their supporters against others. Kobia expressed concern that this may lead to violence.
Kenya’s volatile political atmosphere often falls into turmoil shortly before, during and after the general elections. Usually, the temperatures hit their highest point after announcing elections, with disputes over results resulting in the bloody 2007 PEV and the 2017 chaos.
In January, the NCIC launched a plan to curb hate speech and incitement in the build-up to the general elections.