The Star (Nairobi)

5 October 2012

Kenya: African Judges Say War On Terrorism Affect Refugee Rights

THE anti-terrorism war in developing countries is a hindrance to refugee protection, the ongoing African judges and magistrates conference on refugee protection in Mombasa was told yesterday.

The judges said balancing national security and refugee protection as one of the greatest challenges facing the developing countries.

They said proper policies should be put in place to balance the two.

The judges, under the umbrella of International Association of Refugee Law Judges, said national security in many developing countries has hampered the protection of refugees' rights.

UNHCR regional deputy president Abel Mbilinya called on the judiciary in the countries to step in to ensure genuine refuges are not antagonised in the name of fighting terrorism.

"Many countries are using the issue as an overriding principle to stifle efforts of the genuine asylum seeker.I call upon you judges and magistrates present not to be whipped by the issues of national security but strike a balancing act when handling this issue," said Mbilinya.

IARLJ Africa president Ahmed Arbee, a South African, said the only solution to the problem is the harmonisation of the policy and principals of refugee protection in the world in line with the 1951 Geneva Convention.

"Developing countries have become fundamental barriers towards refugee protection. The judiciary should step in and ensure their rights are guaranteed," said Arbee.

Kenyan appellate judge Erastus Githinji, representing chief justice Willy Mutunga, said the courts have failed to uphold the rule of law when handling refugees' related matters.

The conference comes as Kenya is grappling with one of the largest refugee camps in the world, Daadab, whose many occupants are from the troubled Somalia.

The government has on many occasions decried of the insecurity and acts of terror from people occupying the camps in North Eastern region.

The two-day conference themed 'Towards Harmonizing Policy and Practice in relation to Refugee Status Determination in Africa' has attracted over 100 Judges and Magistrates the world.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2012 The Star. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.