Kilifi North MP submits petition to parliament seeking official recognition of Pemba community

Kilifi North Member of Parliament Owen Baya in Parliament. Baya submitted a petition seeking the recognition of the Pemba Community living in the Kenyan Coast as legitimate Kenyan citizens./COURTESY

The Kilifi North Member of Parliament on Thursday submitted a petition to parliament seeking the recognition of the Pemba community living in the Kenyan Coast as legitimate Kenyan Citizens.

In his petition, Baya argued that the Pemba Community is not recognized in Kenya and has no nationality in Tanzania either.

“While the government of Kenya has accorded varying degrees of recognition of the Makonde community as well as the Malakote community of Tana River, the Pemba people of Kenya have not been accorded similar citizenship recognition,” said Baya.

Baya said that failure by the government to recognize the Pemba people of Kenya as citizens continues to cause great anguish and inconvenience to them since they are unable to register their children at birth hence missing out on education, health, and other social services.

“They are excluded from employment, they are unable to register businesses or open bank accounts or even to register a phone sim card and have unrecognized marriages,” said the Kilifi North legislature.

“They are compelled to register assets through proxies and are regularly exposed to arbitrary arrests for failing to carry Identity Cards and for allegedly being in Kenya illegally,” he added.

Baya said that the continued delay in the recognition and registration of stateless communities in Kenya, such as the Pemba community, by the Authorities is in clear breach and violation of both the constitution and statutory provisions on citizenship in Kenya.

“That efforts to have this matter addressed by the relevant authorities have been futile and that the matter in respect for which this petition is made is not pending before a court of law or constitutional body,” said Baya.

In his petition, Baya asked that the National Assembly through the Departmental Committee on Administration and National Security enquires into the matter with a view of securing the urgent recognition of the Pemba People of Kenya as citizens of the Republic of Kenya to safeguard their constitutional right as well as recognizing their economic and social contributions to the coastal region and the country at large.

He also wants the house to secure the submission of a report by the cabinet secretary for administration and national security on measures, including affirmative action programs taken by the state to address the plight of stateless persons and communities living in Kenya.

The Pemba Community, whose total population in Kenya is estimated to be around 4,000, have lived in the country for close to a century but are yet to be granted citizenship.