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Abusive messages on t-shirts could soon land you in jail

Anyone found spotting a t-shirt with a message deemed to be of an abusive language will soon risk imprisonment or heavy fines, should parliament adopt a proposal by National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

In the proposal, which seeks to amend section 13 of the National Cohesion Act 2008, NCIC wants words printed on t-shirts and lessos to be vetted for hate speech and those found guilty subjected to serious penalties.

“A person who wears or engages in the display of clothing, signs, flags, emblems and insignia with the intention to incite or stir up ethnic hatred… towards a person or a group of persons or towards their property commits an offense,” the proposal reads in part.


NCIC will also engage sign language experts to interrogate non-verbal cues made voluntarily or involuntarily and anyone found guilty fined Sh5 million up from Sh3 million if the proposal passes in Parliament.

“It is not just about speech, there are many nonverbal ways people spread hate speech and once the proposal will be effective, it will tame completely the vice,” NCIC said in a statement.

The move by NCIC comes in the wake of the arrest and prosecution of eight politicians on charges of hate speech and incitement. The politicians were released on Friday on bond after spending three days in police custody.