The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) wants the media to be responsible in their reporting as the country heads to the August General elections.
The commission secretary Hassan Mohamed told members of the press to maintain high level of integrity in covering the polls, noting that most political seats across the country from the presidency to the MCAs positions are expected to be hotly contested.
Mohamed said the media should come out and help the country in toning down this to enable voters peacefully take part in the exercise.
He argued that the media is a tool which influences what people think hence should ensure that they report responsibly to ensure peace prevails in the upcoming polls.
“We are appealing to the media to use their various parameters while reporting to ensure there is peace during the exercise since they play a big role in shaping the society,” he said.
He made the remarks during media training workshop in Kisumu where said the media has struggled and earned respect from Kenyans as a result of amplifying a lot issues despite being censored.
“You’re part of the players we want to influence and involve as a commission to ensure that we have peaceful elections in August,” Mohammed told the scribes.
He expressed concern that the media has in the past contributed to hate speech in many parts of the world giving an example in Kenyan 2007/08 post elections skirmishes where some FM stations were accused of propagating hate speech and propaganda.
“If you look at the Waki and Krigler report, it takes about hate speech and the contribution of FM stations on the same,” added the secretary.
The commission secretary urged journalists not to be exercise objectivity in their reporting.
“You are not reporting for your tribe or your own presidential candidate .Of course we know you have preference but you should not bring it to your work and try forcing it on people,” he said.
The commission vice chairperson Irene Wanyoike however said the commission has not failed in their duties but done what is required of them.
Wanyoike said as NCIC, they have tried their best but what should be clear is that they don’t have powers to prosecute and are not in control of what happens in the court.
“Despite various gaps and challenges in the NCIC Act, we have done our best and we will ensure that more changes are done to the Act which was done in a hurry to solve some of the weaknesses,” she said.
The commissioner said during prosecution of hate speech and ethnic cases, sometimes it becomes a challenge where some witness who have been called to testify decline to come forward and testify emcee hampering the fight against theses vices.