The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has expressed concern over the alarming cases of hate speech and incitement committed through social media platforms 13 months to the next general elections.
KFCB Nyanza Regional Manager Edward Koech speaking to journalists confirmed that there is a surging number of cases of hate mongers in the region.
“Hate speech is a breakdown of law and order, it refers to messages that cause disunity, disaffection and disharmony among people and the increasing number of cases indicate that something needs to be done,” he said.
According to Koech, KFCB monitors and records 24/7 what goes on air for local broadcast stations in the country. He disclosed that the body records the content of over 100 media stations countrywide and this makes it easier to trace back statements of individuals, which aids in taking action on the perpetrators.
With the reported cases of hate crimes rising from 5 to 15 monthly, he noted that there are various parties that are playing a role in instigating this offence.
He noted that some rogue artists, filmmakers and musicians are using their platforms to promote hate speech and incitement through their artistic work. Moreover, some politicians are also at the forefront in spreading inciting messages especially with the increasing political tension in the country citing the 2022 general elections.
Joint efforts with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) and National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has been initiated to help in the fight against hate crimes in Kenya.
Koech warned that the wrath of the law will be enforced on specific individuals and not groups of people.
“The penal code under the NCIC Act Section 77 (1) prohibits incitement to violence and anyone found guilty of the offense is liable to imprisonment not exceeding seven years,” said Koech.
Furthermore, KFCB has intensified monitoring of broadcast media channels as a way of ensuring newsmakers, like politicians, do not abuse their positions and power. Insisting that everyone has a responsibility to promote peace for the creation of one cohesive society.
Sensitization of members of the public is also being carried out on the social media platforms like Facebook to spread awareness to the masses on the importance of responsible use of the internet. Media literacy campaigns are being exercised among the youths who are the greatest consumers of media and spend almost 80 per cent of their time on these platforms.
He appealed to all journalists to preach peace in their work while avoiding hate speech of religion and ethnicity that may lead to conflict among the people. “Media is a tool that influences the opinion of people,” he reiterated.
The Board’s CEO, Dr Ezekiel Mutua last month urged celebrities and political leaders to propagate peace during the forthcoming electioneering period.
Further, he appealed to all and sundry to embrace the civil language and shun any form of hate speech that is likely to promote disunity and tension in the country.
“One of the major areas used in spreading animosity is music. Songs that spread hatred have no place in our modern society and it’s our collective responsibility to denounce any kind of utterances that hamper peace, cohesion and unity in the society,” says Mutua.