30 May 2012

Kenya: Dutch Won't Offer Asylum to ICC Witnesses - Envoy

Visiting Dutch minister for Immigration and Asylum Gerd Leers yesterday said his government is not offering any refugee status to the ICC witnesses. The minister is in the country to discuss refugee matters with his Kenyan counterpart Otieno Kajwang.

Leers said that the Dutch government is always happy to receive refugees from Kenya and that he was in the country to see how Dutch support is is working in practical. "The International Criminal Court is just based at the Hague. They do their own investigations and its not our responsibility to protect their witnesses. The question can be best answered by the ICC," the minister said.

Leers added that the Dutch republic is however giving a number of refugees from Kenya asylum as long as they qualify to be given refugee status. He said his country has open but strict asylum policy and regarding Somalia, many Somalis that don't need protection have been told to return to their mother country. "The solution is that people can go back home. For the time being, we have to give you the support that you need because what you are doing is extremely enormous. Looking at the Kenyan-Somali border and Kenya Sudan border, its not easy for you to handle all the refugees and we are great full," he said.

Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang thanked the Dutch government for helping set up a Fraud Detection unit at the JKIA. Kajwang said the unit has been equipped with advanced and sophisticated equipment for detecting document fraud, investigating suspected cases of document forgery or alteration. "We take responsibility for the documents we have issued. We try to ensure that we have registered every visitor and try to keep that in our database," Kajwang said. He said the Immigration ministry is still working on ways to ensure that there is a robust system to register all refugees and avoid abuse of documents.

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