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Cohesion body warns against ethnicising security debate

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has warned against use of hate speech in the ongoing debates surrounding security.

In a statement published on Monday,  Commission Secretary Hassan Mohamed warned that “any person who utters words intended to incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hostility, violence or discrimination against any person, group or community on the basis of ethnicity or race commits an offence.”

“The person shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one million Kenya shillings or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both,” he added.

The Commission’s warning comes as police continue with security swoops, dubbed Operation Usalama Watch, to flush out illegal immigrants and suspected terrorism cells.

Muslim and Somali leaders have criticised the operation, saying police are targeting  the Somali community.

They accuse the police of  profiling Eastleigh residents on the basis of their ethnicity.

The Cohesion and Integration Commission, in a media notice, said it had noted the use of intolerant language, negative ethnicity and stereotyping by citizens and leaders both on traditional and social media.

It warned that a fine not exceeding Sh 1 million shillings shall be slapped on newspapers, radio or media enterprise that publish hate speech utterances.

It noted that in as much as the constitution provides for freedom of expression, it comes with responsibility and is not an excuse for anyone to perpetuate hate.