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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba


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Three Vernacular stations are on the spot over hate speech in Kenya, allegedly aired as part of the ongoing constitutional referendum campaigns, writes Dennis Itumbi for jocoza. The National Cohesion and Reconciliation committee has already warned that the three risk being pulled off air in accordance with a new law outlawing hate speech in the country and their editors face long terms in jail. National Cohesion Committee Commissioner Jane Kiano confirmed that the names of the three radio stations had already been forwarded to the commissioner of police for action. Said Kiano, "I said it before but I will repeat we have forwarded names of 20 people among them senior members of the clergy, three vernacular FM stations and politicians." However, she said that they cannot name the two people and FM stations involved. Various reports, including one on the flawed 2007 Presidential elections by retired South African Judge J. Kriegler found that three FM stations had fanned the violence in the country. Regulation of vernacular FM stations is a contentious issue in the country and the Media Council of Kenya lacks the capacity and depth to identify and monitor such hate speech. "The problem is that we do not have an effective Media Council, this should not be coming from a government department if we had effective media monitoring, " Jacque Ooko the President of the Journalist Association of Kenya (JAK) told journalism.co.za. The attacks on the FM stations came as a report authored by Peacenet a local lobby pushing for national healing called for more vigilance in monitoring content and programming of vernacular stations. The report titled, Nurturing Nationhood Through Peace Media observed that "most vernacular radio stations are privately owned (such that) any information that is aired in most instances is skewed towards the owners’ interests."