Mwakwere Cabinet post at risk over hate charge

Written By Michael Maunda on Thursday, August 9, 2012 | 12:52 AM

Cabinet minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere has been summoned to appear in court on Thursday to answer charges of hate speech.

Mr Mwakwere, the Minister for Environment, is required to appear before the Nairobi Chief Magistrate’s court.

The summons were issued yesterday evening following an application by the police.

Immediately he is charged, Mr Mwakwere is expected to lose his Cabinet position and can only be reinstated after being cleared by the court.

This will be the second time Mr Mwakwere is to be dropped from the Cabinet. He lost his position after his election as Matuga MP was quashed by a petition court. He came back after re-election, but it was during the campaigns for the by-election that he is alleged to have committed the hate speech crime.

The summons were issued by principal magistrate Peter Ndwiga following an application by the Muthaiga police station CID office.

The decision to have the minister charged was taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr KeriakoTobiko, after the High Court dismissed a case filed by Mr Mwakwere to stop his arrest and prosecution for hate speech.

Mr Mwakwere’s petition seeking to stop the DPP and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) was dismissed by High Court Judge David Majanja on July 26.

The DPP, while approving Mr Mwakwere’s prosecution, said he was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to sustain charges recommended by the NCIC.

The cohesion team complained to the DPP that Mr Mwakwere engaged in hate speech during campaigns for the Matuga by-elections in 2010. 

The minister allegedly told voters that indigenous Coast residents were being oppressed by Kenyans of Arab descent.

This prompted the NCIC to investigate the minister for hate speech.
The commission also supplied evidence against him to the DPP’s office.

However, Mr Mwakwere moved to the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court, alleging that the investigations were an affront to his freedom of expression.

He defended his remarks, saying he was only reminding coastal people of the historical injustices they had suffered.

Minister uttered
Mr Justice Majanja disagreed and ruled that it was up to the DPP to investigate if what the minister uttered constituted hate speech.

The NCIC was created after the 2008 post-election violence, the judge noted, adding that the court cannot interfere with the work of the DPP unless it was convinced that rights were being violated.

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