High court blocks closure of Dadaab Refugee camp

By KBC Reporter

The High Court has revoked the decision by the Kenyan government to shut down Daadab refugee camp.

In his ruling Judge John Mativo termed the move unconstitutional adding that it contravenes Kenya’s international legal obligations under the 1951 UN Convention relating to the status of refugees.

The Judge said the decision specifically targeting Somali refugees is an act of group persecution, illegal and discriminatory in nature.

He further ruled that Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho acted beyond their powers in issuing the directive. The government had set aside one billion shillings for the repatriation of refugees.

Daadab refugee camp is home to close to 600,000.

Amnesty International welcomed the ruling, saying it affirmed Kenya’s legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution.

In June last year the Government confirmed that the closure of the Dadaab Refugee Camp would go on as planned but would not be in contravention of international humanitarian law.

Government’s Chief Legal Advisor, Professor Githu Muigai  said the decision to repatriate the refugees at the camp was neither cruel nor a change of heart by the Government but one designed to balance between the country’s security interests and her obligations under international human rights laws and conventions.

The Attorney General reiterated that Kenya had taken great strides under the AMISOM framework to liberate large parts of Somalia culminating in the creation of an increasingly stable, safe and secure environment for repatriated Somali citizens to return and rebuild their country.

Somalia’s UN-backed government, with the help of a 22,000-strong African Union force, is battling Islamist group al-Shabab to regain control of the country.

But it has only managed to secure major towns.

The militants, who impose a strict version of Islam in the areas they control, still mount deadly bombings and have carried out a string of attacks in neighbouring Kenya.