COURT NULLIFIES DECISION OF THE CLOSURE OF DADAAB REFUGEES CAMP.

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Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director Michelle Kigari speaking to court reporters after High Court delivered a judgement nullifying the decision to close dadaab refugees camp at Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi on Friday February 9 ,2017 (PHOTO BY SAM).
 BY SAM ALFAN.
High Court nullifies closure of Dadaab refugees camp and forcibly repatriation of Somali Nationals.

justice John Mativo also ruled that the decision by the government to collectively repatriate all refugees was wrong.

He said there was no evidence of the people’s involvement in crime, or a single arrest or conviction that has been sighted as proof of risk at the camp, or the presence of al Shabaab members.

Justice Mativo further  ruled that the directive issued by interior minister Joseph Nkaisery on the intended repatriation of refugees and asylum seekers of Somali origin on 10th of May 2016 is arbitrary adding that Nkaiserry and Ps Karanja Kibicho acted in excess powers in announcing the closure of the camp.

“A declaration that the decision of the government of Kenya to collectively repatriate all refugees in Dadaab Refugee Camp to the frontiers of their country of origin against their will violate the principle on international convention as expressed in Article 33 of the 1951 UN convention relating to the status of refugees as well as section 18 of the Refugee Act 2006,”court ruled.

The court further ruled that the decision specifically targeting Somali refugees is an act of group persecution, illegal, discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional.

In the case Kituo cha Sheria,Legal Advice Centre and Amnesty International sued Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery seeking to stop the directive to close the world’s largest refugee camp, Daadab.

The petitioners protested the directives issued by the two on May 6 and 10 2016 requiring the Department of Refugee Affairs be disbanded and that Daadab be closed.

They argued that the directive, violates international laws and that some of the refugees are likely to face persecution.

They also claimed the move will harm refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya as it denies them access to vital services.

Paralegal Refugees Committee member said A Abukar speaking to court reporters outside a courtroom after high Court nullified decision by government to repatriating Somali nationals back to Somalia at High Court in Nairobi on Friday February 9 ,2017 (PHOTO BY SAM).
Paralegal Refugees Committee member said A Abukar speaking to court reporters outside a courtroom after high Court nullified decision by government to repatriating Somali nationals back to Somalia at High Court in Nairobi on Friday February 9 ,2017 (PHOTO BY SAM).

Kenyan government wanted Dadaab camp closed over security concerns, saying attacks on its soil have been planned there adding thatgovernment will not change its mind over the closure of Dadaab Refugee camp, even with new funding.

The Dadaab camp in Kenya is home to more than 300,000 Somalis.

Dadaab was set up in 1991 to house families fleeing conflict in Somalia, and some people have been living there for more than 20 years.

In response to today’s court ruling blocking the government’s unilateral decision to shut Dadaab refugee camp, Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:
“Today is a historic day for more than a quarter of a million refugees who were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses” said Muthoni Regional Director East Africa.
 https://youtu.be/KDJBtd6J6Bo
She said the ruling reaffirms Kenya’s
constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution.
Stopping the imminent closure of Dadaab refugee camp is an essential first step in respecting and protecting refugee rights in Kenya.
“Now Kenya and the international community must work towards finding alternative solutions for refugees including local integration options.”
The camp was initially due to be closed on 30 November 2016, but the government announced a six-month delay on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
Dadaab’s closure would effectively have left more than 260,000 Somali refugees with nowhere else to go. Most of those who spoke to Amnesty International for a report published in November 2016 accused Kenyan government officials of coercing them to return to Somalia against their will.

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