NAIROBI - With elections weeks away, Kenya is tackling the hate speech that fanned ethnic violence that followed presidential polls five years ago in which more than 1,100 people were killed.
At the commission's ultra-modern premises in Nairobi, a group of five men are monitoring social media sites, searching for words or statements that might constitute hate speech. "The majority of cases we investigate are hate speech charges against big men...politicians, aspiring politicians...people who would do anything to get to power," said Peter, asking that his full name not to be printed as he feared the consequences. Internet sites such as Twitter and Facebook have seen a rapid rise in popularity since the last elections, with now over a quarter of Kenyans online. In 2007-8, it was radio stations that encouraged rival supporters to go out and attack other groups, broadcasting the location of where groups were, while mobile phone text messages were also used to whip up emotions.
One former radio presenter, Joshua Sang, faces trial in April for crimes against humanity charges in the International Criminal Court, charges he denies. "We have almost 100 employees - some located here, others in the field," said Kyalo Mwengi, a legal officer at the commission.
Field officers primarily attend political gatherings to monitor what is said there, and include police officers, journalists, students and community leaders. "They blend in and send us everything in raw format," Mwengi said, adding that the Nairobi-based team then trawl the audio or video recordings.
"If there are elements of hate speech, we summon the person in question ... and warn them. Most of those warned cease immediately," said Lwanga.
Violence following the last elections shattered Kenya's image as a beacon of stability in east Africa, with what began as political riots quickly turning into ethnic killing.
The violence was the worst in Kenya since independence in 1963, and Lwanga is under no illusion as to the magnitude of the work before her.
"This cannot be done by us alone," she says. "It is something all Kenyans should take up." -- All Kenyans must take part -- However, opinion remains divided over the commission's performance, with opponents arguing the body has been a waste of public finances.
"What tangible thing has it done for Kenyans?" former political detainee and civil rights activist Timothy Njoya told AFP, calling it a waste of taxpayers' money.
"It is a toothless commission. It doesn't even have a bark, let alone a bite...There has been no conviction, not even anything close to a conviction," he added.
To date, the commission has investigated more than 100 hate speech cases, some involving the very top of Kenyan society.
However, fewer than ten of those cases went to court, and none of the accused were found guilty. One hate speech and incitement case against a prominent politician was dropped simply because he made a public apology, but officials say they are also working to unify previously rival peoples.
"Our mandate is not just to condemn, we are also charged with promoting cohesion among communities," Lwanga argued.
"Of what value would a hefty jail sentence have been if the hateful sentiments he uttered had been left to fester among his followers?"
But the commission is not the only body monitoring what is being said.
Technology entrepreneur Kagonya Awori is in charge of a project called Umati - meaning "crowd" in Swahili - that uses a key words filter to monitor hate speech online.
"I was surprised to learn that people like me - young, urban, upwardly mobile - are some of the worst hate speech offenders," she said, dressed in a green T-shirt and stretch jeans.
"We needed to see the kind of conversations going on online. The use of Internet in Kenya has risen ...and this means if the same hate messages go around, their reach will be much wider than it was in 2007 - meaning potentially worse violence," said Awori.
However, despite the initiatives monitoring hate speech, sceptics remain.
"Human nature dictates that if a trait is not punished by those in authority, it becomes entrenched," said Njoya. "We will continue to clap for politicians abusing the imaginary enemies of our tribes."
Others argue that the change must come from the Kenyan people.
"Kenya's national sport is politics. Strangely, decency and common sense are thrown out of the window as soon as the main players get on the pitch," civil society leader Tom Mboya told AFP.
"Ultimately, the task of changing our ethnic politics lies with us, the voters. No commission or court will change our voting patterns."