Lawyers and judges from across Africa on Saturday piled pressure on the Kenyan government to allow Canada-based lawyer Miguna Miguna back in the country.
In a statement sent to newsrooms on Saturday, The Africa Jurists and Judges Forum (AJJF), said it had learnt that Mr Miguna was intending to return to the country in the company of former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. AJJF cautioned the government against blocking the lawyer’s entry into the country.
The forum – based in Johannesburg, South Africa, said that the previous conducts by the government, including the issuing of red alerts to a number of European airlines barring them from flying Mr Miguna into the country, bordered on impunity and disregard of the law.
The lawyers said that the these actions, coupled with others where orders issued by the courts have been disobeyed, were not only discriminatory, but were also a sign of the government’s willingness to frustrate its citizens, including barring Mr Miguna from returning to Kenya, a country where he is a citizen by birth.
“AJJF calls upon the government of Kenya to respect the right of Mr Miguna Miguna to return. Keeping Mr Miguna out of the country was done in blatant disregard of court decisions stopping his arrest, detention and deportation.
“In ignoring court decisions, the government of Kenya undermines the independence of the courts, brings into question their authority and legitimacy and threatens the rule of law,” the judges said.
The statement by AJJF follows remarks issued by Dr Mutunga earlier this week that he would be travelling to Canada to accompany Mr Miguna back into the country.
Dr Mutunga, who has previously accused the government of disobeying court orders, last Wednesday said that his decision was a protest move against the government which he accused of infringing on Mr Miguna’s rights as a citizen of the country.
The retired CJ also accused the state of abducting and torturing Mr Miguna at his home in Nairobi before deportation in 2018. He added that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime had ignored several court orders to bring the lawyer back.
“I have taken this extraordinary step for two fundamental reasons. The first is because of the continued, flagrant and reprehensible defiance of the Government of Kenya, its agencies, and senior officials, against the numerous valid court orders in favour of Mr Miguna,” said Dr Mutunga in a statement released during Mashujaa Day celebrations.
“The second reason why I have decided to undertake this journey is to support and defend the independence of our Judiciary, its authority, and the people’s confidence in it,” he added.
AJJF asked the government of Kenya to respect all court orders that were made regarding the return of Mr Miguna.
Mr Miguna, who has been practicing law in Canada following a self-imposed exile in the 1990s, was first deported in February 2018 after taking part in the mock swearing-in of ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018.
The lawyer then accused the government of raiding and destroying his Runda home, before sedating and deporting him to Canada.
Attempts by a number of his lawyers, including Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi among others to secure his return have proved futile over the years, with the government insisting that Mr Miguna, had in his quest to acquire a Canadian citizenship, rescinded his Kenyan citizenship.
But Dr Mutunga, and a host of other lawyers, including Mr Miguna, insists that he remains a Kenyan citizen by birth, a right that the government cannot take away from him.
“Miguna is a Kenyan-born citizen who has never lost his Kenyan citizenship. The court nullified the cancellation of Mr Miguna’s citizenship and passport and declared that his arrest, detention, torture, and removal from Kenya were illegal, unconstitutional, and a gross violation of his rights,” Dr Mutunga said.