BY IRENE ONYANGO.
A lobby group has moved to court to challenge a decision by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to ban or classify some words deemed as hate speech but which is popular among urban youths.
The lobby group- Chama Cha Mawakili says classifying popular culture ‘Hatupangwingwi’ and ‘watajua hawajui’ as hate speech, has no justification.
The lobby wants the High Court to quash the decision by the Commission to classify the two terms, which is popularly used by the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party leader William Ruto and his allies.
“Unless the court intervenes by restraining the NCIC from implementing the decision are foresaid to the extent of including “hatupangwingwi” and watajua hawajui”, there is a real likelihood that the rights if Kenyans to freedom of expression, fair administrative action, equal treatment and benefit if law, freedom and human dignity will be curtailed without a just cause,” says lobby group.
Through lawyers Felix Kiprono and Vincent Yegon, the lobby wants the court to suspend the implementation of the said decision made on April 8, 2022 banning the words.
“The NCIC in purporting to classify or ban the said words without any lawful justification had acted ultra-vires, taken sides and descended into the arena of politics,” the group says.
Chama cha Mawakili argues that they are apprehensive that as a result of classification or ban of the said words, NCIC and state agencies may institute criminal or related proceedings against millions of Kenyans accessing freedom of expression by using the said two words.
It is their argument that Kenyans stand to suffer substantial and irreparable loss if the court does not suspend the implementation of the said two words as hate terms.
They further adds that NCIC has a constitutional duty to adhere to the provision of article 47(1) of the constitution in particular the process if classifying or terming words as hate must not be misused or otherwise used as an avenue to settle political scores in the guise of encouraging national cohesion and integration.
The said process must also not be used to confer undue political benefit to other political groups and formation in the coming general election.
“The national cohesion and integration process should not be used to harass or impress any person through the institution of threat or institution of hate speech proceedings against a person,” the lobby says.
According to the lobby group the classification of one’s as hate of ban must not be for a purpose of other than genuine enforcement of law and order