Security agencies yesterday put internet hate mongers on notice as they launched online investigations to bring culprits to book.
The National Police Service, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Communication Authority of Kenya have partnered to track down sources of messages that could fuel violence.
In January, the NCIC announced it would recruit a social media investigations officer with a background in information technology and two others to work as social media monitors ahead of the August 8 General Election.
Yesterday, an Eldoret college student was charged with hate speech and ethnic contempt.
Meshack Korir appeared before chief magistrate Charles Obulutsa. He is said to have posted an inciting message on his Facebook page.
Korir’s lawyer Christopher Mitei pleaded for lenient bond terms, but Obulutsa said the case was serious and cannot be taken lightly with the country heading to the polls.
Korir was released on Sh1 million bond or Sh500,000 cash bail.
Obulutsa said the case “is serious” and should be heard before the upcoming polls. It will be heard on August 1.
“You posted on your open source page, known as Facebook, the following message — Watu wahame waende wakafanye upuzi Central. Wamesikia kuna Wakalee kwao?” — which was calculated to stir up ethnic hatred between the Kalenjins and the Kikuyus,” the charge sheet reads.
The anti-hate agencies have mapped social media as a major catalyst that could stir violence.
The NCIC has mapped 21 social media groups hosted on WhatsApp.
They are targetted for spreading hate.
The agencies met with the private sector and called for peaceful polls.
Acting Interior CS Fred Matiang’i said the National Police Service had cracked the whip on online hate mongers and will soon arrest them.
“We will not tolerate anything that can disrupt our peace. We’ve put police on the alert in areas where those spreading hate speech will be arrested,” he said.
Matiang’i urged human rights groups to join in the war on incitment and hate speech.
“We know in our quest for peace and arresting those propagating hate, the human rights groups will come out to victimise the agencies for human rights violation. We want to tell them we won’t let our peace be in jeopardy,” he said.
NCIC boss Francis ole Kaparo said the commission is also keen on monitoring those heckling in public rallies. He said they might request CA to shut down social media should its use pose a threat.