By Andrew Ross
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Kenya’s state-run human rights commission on Monday issued an urgent court challenge to controversial government plans to close the Dadaab refugee camp, which hosts over 327,000 Somali refugees.
In their urgent petition to the nation’s High Court, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said, “A repatriation process that is bent on the application of force against an individual’s will violates an individual’s right to dignity and security of the person hence offending Article 28 and 29 of the Constitution.”
The commission blasted the government plans, announced last month, as arbitrary, degrading, and discriminatory.
Article 28 stipulates that every person has the right to have their inherent dignity respected and protected while Article 29 touches on the freedoms and security of all people in Kenya, including foreigners.
The commission told the High Court that the preliminary step of closing the Department of Refugee Affairs is illegal and is already having far-reaching negative effects on the rights and fundamental freedoms of thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers, as it denies them access to vital services.
“The closure of the Daadab Refugee Camp will occasion danger and persecution to refugees and asylum-seekers if they are forcibly returned without a proper assessment of their security concerns,” said the court petition.
In a meeting with United Nations officials on May 27 over the closure plans, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called the decision final.
Visiting Kenya last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan praised Kenya for supporting refugees especially from Kenya and South Sudan, and criticized Western nations for doing little to help resolve the refugee problem around the globe.