PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 32/25/98
This is a limited action. Please restrict appeals to five per section.
EXTRA 62/98 Arbitrary Detention / Fear of ill-treatment in detention / Fear of imminent refoulement 28 August 1998
KENYA Hundreds of refugees
In the wake of the bombing of the United States embassy in Nairobi on 7 August
1998 Kenya is taking action, in a review of “all security procedures” to refoule
hundreds of refugees and asylum-seekers to countries where many would be at
risk of serious human rights abuses.
On 20 August the Home Affairs Minister, Shariff Nassir, ordered all refugees
and asylum seekers in possession of documentation from agencies, but without
Kenyan government authority, to report to the Ministry of Immigration. Many
who have done so have then found their protection letters from the United Nations
High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) confiscated and replaced by residence
permits which expire within 14 days for Rwandese and Burundians and one month
for Sudanese. Others have been ordered to report to designated refugee camps
where conditions are appalling.
There are also reports of the mass arrests of refugees in Nairobi though some
of these have since been released on condition that they report to refugee
Those mainly affected are refugees and asylum-seekers from Rwanda, Burundi,
Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.
The action may also have resulted from Kenyan fears of a new influx of refugees
fleeing from the latest conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This latest action follows a pattern of arbitrary arrest, detention without
charge, ill-treatment and other forms of harassment of refugees in Kenya, which
is host to some 173,164 registered refugees. Hundreds of Burundian and Rwandese
refugees were arrested in 1997, many only securing release after payment of
bribes. Some have also been deported to their country of origin despite the
risk they face of human rights violations.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English or your own language:
- acknowledging Kenya’s legitimate security concerns in the wake of the bombing
of the United States Embassy but expressing concern that refugees and
asylum-seekers have been targeted as a result;
- expressing concern in particular at the removal of documents from refugees
and asylum seekers since 20 August 1998 and their threatened refoulement and
seeking assurances they will not be refouled to countries where they could
be at risk of serious human rights violations, particularly those from Rwanda,
Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo;
- expressing concern at the arbitrary detention of refugees and asylum-seekers
and calling for their immediate release unless they be promptly charged with
recognizably criminal offences;
- seeking assurances that those in detention are not ill-treated and have access
to medical care, lawyers and visits from their families.
APPEALS TO (please note that fax tones may be difficult to obtain at times):