Kenya: Echesa's 'Cultural Dancers' Deported for Violating Migration Regulations

Sports, Heritage and Culture Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa.

The eight Pakistani women flown into the country through the assistance of Sports Cabinet Secretary (CS) Rashid Echesa have been deported.

Also deported on Saturday evening, for violating their status by varying their temporary passes that allowed them into Kenya, allegedly to promote transnational culture, was one Indian dancer.

However, the women, all aged above 18 and suspected to have been victims of human trafficking were arrested at a social club in Parklands and charged in court with being in the country illegally.

A statement from the ministry of Interior on Saturday evening, said the women had been deported for violating a regulation of Kenya citizenship and migration regulations, by engaging in activities outside of what was specified in their entry documents.

"Some have already left and the last batch will leave at midnight. Investigations are still going on to establish the circumstances in which the women came into Kenya ostensibly to promote transnational culture but ended up in suspicious places," said Department of Interior spokeswoman Wangui Muchiri.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

On Friday, a magistrate ordered that the women, known as belly dancers, be kept in a safe house to enable police establish whether they are victims of human trafficking.

Senior Principal Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot sitting at the Milimani Law Courts Nairobi gave the order after being furnished with special permits issued to the eight foreign girls by Mr Echesa.

Defence lawyer Evans Ondieki told Mr Cheruiyot that the eight girls, who were arrested at Balle Balle Club at Parklands " are in the country legally with full permission of Mr Echesa."

Mr Ondieki said the eight cultural dancers from Pakistan, were allowed to enter into the country by Mr Echesa to promote trans-national cultures.

"On humanitarian grounds, I urge this court to release these girls as they have not bathed for the last one week, health rules require women to fresh up and bath as many times as they can afford," Mr Ondieki told the magistrate.

SPECIAL PASSES

He said it was very regretful that police are stifling the order of CS Echesa allowing the girls to perform in Kenya up to January 18, 2019.

He said each of the girls paid the Immigration department Sh45,000 to be issued with the special passes.

"What government are the police serving and what government is Mr Echesa serving? Aren't they serving the same regime?" Mr Ondieki wondered.

He prevailed upon the court to release the girls to Mr Nadeem Khan, of Blue Heart, a non-governmental organisation against Human trafficking, Violence and Child Abuse to place them in a safe house where "only him and police can access the girls for interrogation."

Additional reporting by Richard Munguti

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