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Kenyan musicians charged with hate speech

July 12, 2012 at 9:05 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 12 (UPI) -- Kenya's human rights' head warned freedom of speech could incite violence as in a case involving three musicians charged with using hate speech in their lyrics.

Samuel Tororei, acting head of the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, told Voice of America his organization is committed to protecting free speech, but that the right should be used responsibly.

"Enjoying human rights entails on a citizen, whether private or corporate, the duty -- the responsibility -- to respect other people's rights, too," he said.

Kenyan musicians Kamande wa Kioi, Muigai Wa Njoroge and John DeMathew have been charged with using hate speech by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, which was created in 2008 as a result of post-election ethnic violence that killed about 1,300 Kenyans, the International Business Times reported.

The lyrics in question seem to defend Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, of the Kikuyu ethnic group, who is expected to run for president.

Kenyatta was named a suspect by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for his alleged involvement in the post-election violence. Prime Minister Raila Odinga, of the rival Luo ethnic group, is also expected to run for president.

"If you knew that the Hague is being pushed to you by an uncircumcised man who wants you to be hanged so that you leave your wife for him to enjoy with; while he sees you in trouble," the lyrics said, referring to the Luo people who do not practice male circumcision.

If convicted, the musicians face up to three years in prison or a fine of about $12,000.

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