Kenyan Musicians Charged With Hate Speech

Posted July 4th, 2012 at 10:35 am (UTC-5)
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Three Kenyan musicians have been charged with hate speech under laws adopted following the country's post-election violence in 2008.

Kamande wa Kioi, Muigai Wa Njoroge and John DeMathew appeared in a Nairobi court Wednesday to answer charges that their songs were intended to cause hatred and hostility between Kenya's Kikuyu and Luo ethnic groups.

The three men, all Kikuyus, denied the charges and were released on bail.

Last week, Kenya's National Cohesion and Integration Commission threatened to censor songs that “promote hate among ethnic lines” and singled out songs by each of the three musicians.

The commission was established in 2008 to promote harmony among Kenyans in hopes of preventing outbreaks of ethnic violence.

Widespread violence after a disputed presidential election four years ago killed an estimated 1,300 Kenyans and displaced about 300,000 others.

Incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, and his challenger Raila Odinga, a Luo, both claimed victory in that poll. An eventual power-sharing deal installed Mr. Odinga as prime minister.

If convicted, the musicians could be imprisoned for up to three years and face fines of about $12,000.