What you need to know:
- Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions made an application requesting that the foreigners be released for processing as refugees.
- Lodwar Ward Commander Christopher Kenga said he is working on logistics to facilitate transportation of the 60 aliens to Kakuma.
The 60 Eritrean nationals who have been in custody for more than two weeks at Lodwar GK Prison and Lodwar Police Station will now be taken to Kakuma Refugee Camp and processed as asylum seekers.
The Eritreans were arrested in Turkana North Constituency which borders Ethiopia with the Kokuro area, now identified as a notorious smuggling entry point for illegal immigrants, through the facilitation of police officers and Kenyans.
The development comes after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) made an application requesting that they be released for processing as refugees by UNHCR and the Department of Refugee Affairs because the prison and cell in Lodwar can't hold them.
The foreigners were arrested for being in the country unlawfully without valid entry or permit, but had been subjected to poor living conditions at Lodwar GK Prison and Lodwar Police Station cell.
It was established that the crowded prison and lack of a holding facility for children at Lodwar police station could not hold the aliens.
Lodwar Ward Commander Christopher Kenga on Sunday said he is working on logistics to facilitate transportation of the 60 aliens to Kakuma, 120 kilometers away after Senior Principal Magistrate Desderias Orimba on Friday granted a general order to have them released and taken to the refugee camp.
Police officers were forced to provide beddings for seven minors aged between 10 and 17-years-old and a one-and-a-half-year-old girl who had occupied an incomplete building at Lodwar police station before Kenya Red Cross intervened with more support that included dignity kits which are packages comprising the basic sanitary and hygiene necessities and mosquito nets.
The ODPP said that in the case, there are three Kenyans who are facing charges of smuggling human beings contrary to section 53(P) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act no. 12 of 2011.
On October 12, 2023, at Merikuka village of Kokuro sub-location in Kibish sub-county within Turkana County, Stephen Ndungu, Emmanuel Mwasi, James Kuti, and John Mbugua were arrested for receiving and smuggling aliens of Eritrean citizenship into the republic of Kenya without valid permit/visa from immigration department in contravention of the above act whom they loaded into vehicles.
Two police officers were also this month arrested along Lokori-Lokichar road for transporting 13 aliens (eight Ethiopians, four Eritreans, and a Sudanese man) in a police vehicle.
County Commissioner Jacob Ouma said the latest arrests and related court cases have affirmed their tough stance on combating the smuggling and trafficking of human beings syndicate through Turkana.
"The arrested suspects including our police officers are critical in our investigations to narrow down to cartels behind the syndicate," Mr Ouma said.