Kenyans are having a field day with the reality that eight legislators (7 MPs and a senator), charged with hate speech, are indeed still being detained in police cells in Nairobi since Tuesday.
The MPs, who include Jubilee’s Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Ferdinand Waititu (Kabete), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati) and CORD’S Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba), Junet Mohamed (Suna East) Florence Mutua (Busia), Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi) and Machakos senator Johnson Muthama are being held at Muthangari, Kilileshwa, Kilimani, Pangani, Gigiri and Muthaiga police stations pending the hearing of their cases.
The eight were denied bail on Tuesday with Magistrate Daniel Ogembo upholding an application by the prosecution that the suspects be detained pending further investigations into their cases.
Kenyans have taken to social media in mockery of the unprecedented move. Below are some of the views shared under the hasthtag #8MPs
Macharia Kiarie: Who is even thinking about the 8 MPs now? Kenya is very peaceful, a Cord supporter, my neighbor, greeted me in the morning ‘hi bro’,
Jedi Mind : Hopefully the “Hateful 8” Mps can see that the powers that they were trying to please are doing nothing for them.
Benkio: I actually support the detention and subsequent incarceration of the 8 mps… We’ve had enough of this hate speech already..
Henry Garry: i Now that we’ve 8 MPs in custody. Why can’t they hold the #IEBCDialogue #IEBCin the cells, away from parliament and share their views withUs?
KENYA’S LAW ON HATESPEECH
The Kenyan law criminalizes hate speech and the National Cohesion and Integration Act No. 12 of 2008 defines what constitutes hate speech under section 13 and created the legal and institutional framework required for prosecuting hate speech; however law courts have not managed to prosecute hate speech charges previously brought before them with success. Moses Kuria for instance has been in court before for the same offence.
The country is gearing for the 2017 general elections and political tensions have been high especially with recent utterances and shenanigans orchestrated by some leaders from both the ruling party and the opposition that have been ethnically inciting.
Kenya learned the hard way during the 2007-08 post-election violence and spectators are worried that if the current situation, which has spilled to social media persists, the country might eventually erupt into political violence.
Hate speech – that is, speech designed to promote hatred on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin – poses vexing and complex problems for contemporary constitutional rights to freedom of expression.