KNCHR asks govt to rescind decision to repatriate refugees, says move unlawful

What you need to know:

  • The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said on Tuesday in a statement that the government's proposed measures “are a serious threat to the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and amount to a breach of Kenya’s national, regional and international human rights laws”.
  • The body also took issue with the government's decision to close the Department of Refugee Affairs, the arm that handles refugee matters, declaring it unconstitutional.

A human rights body has opposed the government’s decision to close down the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps.

The agency has also opposed repatriation of refugees back to their countries, saying that it is a contravention of Kenya’s human rights obligations.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said on Tuesday in a statement that the government's proposed measures “are a serious threat to the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and amount to a breach of Kenya’s national, regional and international human rights laws”.

“By unilaterally closing the refugee camps, the Kenyan government will be in grave breach of the principle of non-refoulement which protects asylum seekers and refugees from being returned to places where their lives and freedoms could be threatened,” warned KNCHR.

The body also took issue with the government’s decision to close the Department of Refugee Affairs, the arm that handles refugee matters, declaring it unconstitutional.

“The Department of Refugee Affairs is a statutory body established under the refugee Act. The decision by the government to disband such a body without repealing or amending the law through the required legal process is in itself blatantly illegal,” said KNCHR.

The government announced on Friday that it would stop hosting refugees and would immediately start removing current refugees, citing security concerns.

In addition, the government said asylum seekers arriving in the country would no longer be given automatic refugee status.

There are currently around 550,000 refugees in the country, most of whom are hosted at the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.

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