2 December 2017

Kenya Says Visa Policy Will Not Compromise Security

The Kenyan government has downplayed concerns that the policy of issuing visas at the point of entry for Africans that President Uhuru Kenyatta announced during his swearing-in on November 28 is likely to compromise the war against terror.

Mwenda Njoka, the strategic communications director in the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, said that the issuance of visas at the point of entry has been going on, and that those with bad intentions normally enter the country through other means than the formal route.

"The intention is to make it easier for the movement of people and goods in order to boost the economy, especially tourism. However, we expect reciprocity from other countries, especially EAC members," he said.

Mr Njoka said that Kenya has been working closely with the US Department of State Terrorist Interdiction Programme, which provides the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System, a sophisticated border management tool to help the global War against Terrorism.

Real time biodata

"Kenyan Immigration receives real time biodata on each passenger coming into the country, which enables us to identify terrorists before their arrival," he said.

Yet observers are equating the visa on entry policy to President Kenyatta's announcement in February in Somalia that the two countries would re-launch direct flights from Mogadishu to Nairobi, which only resulted in one inaugural flight before it was suspended.

This announcement alarmed the US, which has also been negotiating with Kenya for a direct flight.

Mr Njoka said the direct flight was meant to bring pressure on Mogadishu to improve its security and for Somalia to benefit from it.

Following the increased attacks by Al Shabaab terrorist group in Kenya from 2014, the government has put in place several measures to improve security, some of which have been controversial, such as the Security Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014 that allowed surveillance, monitoring of private calls and e-mails.

"The law has allowed us to use technology to fight terrorism, by enhancing the capacity of security agencies to get information on terrorists that leads to conviction," said Mr Njoka.

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