Nairobi, KENYA: Amnesty international has applauded court’s ruling that blocks the Kenyan government’s unilateral decision to shut Dadaab refugee camp.
In a press statement on Thursday, Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Muthoni Wanyeki , termed the court’s ruling as historic that will avert instances of more than a quarter of a million refugees, who would have been at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia and undergo human rights abuses.
Wanyeki said that the ruling reaffirms Kenya’s constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution.
“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.” Wanyeki said
In his ruling, Justice JM Mativo said the government’s orders were discriminatory and amounted to collective. He also described the orders as excessive, arbitrary and disproportionate.
The High Court ruling came in response to a petition by two Kenyan human rights organizations, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Kituo Cha Sheria; which challenged the constitutionality of the government’s directive to shut down Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, and the department of refugee Affairs.
The camp was initially due to be closed on 30 November 2016, but the government announced a six-month delay on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
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Wanyeki pointed that Dadaab’s closure would effectively have left more than 260,000 Somali refugees with nowhere else to go.