Nairobi, KENYA: High court has overthrown the Government’s decision to shut down Daadab Camp and repatriate Somali refugees terming the action as unconstitutional.
During his ruling on Thursday Justice John Mativo said the decision was illegal and discriminatory.
“Government’s decision specifically targeting Somali refugees is an act of group persecution, illegal and discriminatory.” He said.
He further declared PS Eng. Karanja Kibicho’s initiative to disband the department of refugee affairs as null and void.
“The PS has no power to disband a body created by an act of Parliament,” he noted.
Meanwhile, various humanitarian bodies came out to welcome the move while Government seemed displeased by the high court’s decision.
“This is a very positive step for the lives of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have been stuck in limbo since the official announcement was made in May last year. MSF urges the Government of Kenya to uphold the decision. Any return of refugees to Somalia must be done on a voluntary basis,” Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said in a statement.
Amnesty International termed the ruling as historic as more than a quarter of a million refugees were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses.
“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, “ Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes stated.
Government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe had earlier said that the key reason for the closure of the camp was because it had been a launch pad for various terrorist attacks by Al Shabaab.
“The camp has lost its humanitarian nature and had become a haven for terrorism and other illegal activities. We would like to state that the Government will be appealing this ruling, “Mr. Kiraithe cautioned.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Kituo cha Sheria moved to court last year seeking to challenge the Government’s decision to close the refugee camp which is home to 329,811 refugees.