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ARTICLE 19 recommends amendments to "hate speech" laws and proposed constitution

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 25 June 2010 - The legal framework regulating hate speech in Kenya falls short of international human rights standards and raises serious concerns regarding the protection of the right to freedom of expression. In a Commentary released today, ARTICLE 19 recommends amendments to the provisions on hate speech contained in existing laws and to the proposed Constitution.

The Commentary examines the existing Constitution, and that proposed on the 6th of May 2010, as well as the Penal Code, the Media Act of 2007, the Broadcasting Regulations of 2009 and the National Cohesion and Integration Act of 2008. It shows that Kenya's existing laws on the regulation of hate speech go beyond what is required under international human rights law and have the potential effect of restricting legitimate forms of expression.

ARTICLE 19 notes that the proposed Constitution reflects "an unclear and confused picture of Kenya's international legal obligations". The Commentary states: "During this period of heightened constitutional reflection in Kenya, which has itself been a response to inter-ethnic tensions and violence, Kenya's state organs should seize the opportunity to repeal or amend Kenya's legislative and constitutional provisions regulating hate speech according to international standards on freedom of expression."

ARTICLE 19 recommends, among other measures, that:

- Key provisions of the proposed Constitution (Section 33(2)) and the National Cohesion and Integration Act be amended to reflect international human rights standards, in particular Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence.

- Section 138 of the Penal Code, dealing with "offences relating to religion," be repealed.

- The Code of Conduct for Journalists and Media Enterprises contained in the Second Schedule of the Media Act be repealed and redrafted by media representatives as a self-regulatory and voluntary code of conduct.

Read ARTICLE 19's Commentary:
kenya_commentary_on_the_regulation_of_hate_speech.pdf (376 KB)

Click below to read the full text of ARTICLE 19's Comment on the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill, 2007, which was published in November 2009:
kenya_hate_speech.pdf (275 KB)

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