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Call for justice against cyberbullying as the world marks women's day

NATIONAL
By Mactilda Mbenywe | Mar 8th 2022 | 3 min read
By Mactilda Mbenywe | March 8th 2022
NATIONAL

Stressed teenage girl bullied online [Courtesy]

A Spanish lobby group has come under heavy criticism for allegedly funding cyberbullying of Kenyan MPs pushing for reproductive health laws.

In a statement, the human rights civil society organizations yesterday asked the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions to initiate criminal investigations against Spanish lobby group CitizenGO on suspicion of funding the cyberbullying of MPs Susan Kihika, Esther Passaris and others.

“To date, this group has managed to intimidate, oppress and dissuade lawmakers by attacking the Reproductive Healthcare Bill 2019, The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill (aka the Surrogacy Bill) and now the East African Community Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Bill, 2021,” said Jedidah Maina, Executive Director at Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH)

The civil society demands come in the wake of a report by Mozilla Foundation that revealed Kenyan influencers have been paid between Sh1,000 and Sh1,500 to flood Twitter with misleading and altered graphics in a coordinated campaign against multiple reproductive health bills and policies.

Linda Owino, Programme officer at Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on Hiv/Aids (KELIN) said: “This series of targeted attacks are a violation of Kenya’s Constitution and national values.  If not dealt with immediately, they will have dire effects on Kenya’s democratic process, peace, security, and human rights record.”

The civil society group also called on the Kenya Revenue Authority to equally investigate the tax offences that could have been committed by the individual and corporate representatives here in Kenya.

Maina added: “Whereas claiming to fight against Western influence, CitizenGO is indeed the very embodiment of a shadowy Western entity working behind the scenes to interfere with local politics and constitutional processes with no accountability.

A CitizenGO’s official, the human rights groups claimed, has explicitly revealed plans to disrupt online discourse, and manipulate elections and legislative processes in Kenya.

“The actions of CitizenGO stand directly in the way of every Kenyan’s right to credible and accurate information. Their cyberbullying interferes with women’s right to the highest attainable standard of reproductive health as constitutionally guaranteed. The threat of disinformation is dire and the manipulation of democracy that this group presents ahead of Elections 2022 should not be taken lightly. This disinformation machinery should be dealt with forthwith.”

Other organizations represented in the civil society statement include: Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA); Zamara Foundation; Youth Empowerment Movement Kenya (YEM); Reproductive Health Network Kenya (RHNK); SRHR Alliance Kenya and Love Matters Kenya.

Reached for comment, CitizenGO’s Campaigns Director for Africa, Ann Mutave Kioko promised to respond to the allegations.

Kioko who had requested the Standard to forward the queries to her on email said: I am coordinating with our press team to give a concrete response and reply to the allegations."

Reached for comment, CitizenGO’s Campaigns Director for Africa, Ann Mutave Kioko promised to respond to the allegations.

Kioko who had requested the Standard to forward the queries to her on email said: I am coordinating with our press team to give a concrete response and reply to the allegations."

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