A survey on the status of migrants in detention places commissioned by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reveal possible violations and abuse subjected to the vulnerable group.
According to the report, migrants in detention places in Kenya face a number of human rights violations including restriction on their freedom of movement as well as deprivation of their liberty through enforced confinement.
The study reveal that an approximated 2,000 migrants are held in detention centres across the country with a third of the migrants being detained for being in the country without proper documentation. These migrants, the report says, often end up in prison cells as the country lacks requisite infrastructure to hold the migrants awaiting repatriation.
Authors of the report say Immigration detention is a growing threat to the well-being of migrants across the globe with various governments increasingly adopting the tool as a means of controlling migrants’ entry and stay in their territories.
The report says administrative measures of detention are often without any regard for individual migrant’s status thus violating the legislative framework of protection mechanisms of migrants in detention and the conditions of migrants kept in detention.
According to the report, the Kenyan government should prioritize alternatives to detention arguing that not only do the detained migrants often have their human rights violated, it costs the Kenyan government approximately Kshs 2 Billion annually to process migrants through the criminal justice system and afterwards repatriate them to their countries of origin.
The report is recommending Individualized case management as guided by the National Referral Mechanism Guidelines for assisting victims of human trafficking (NRM) to avoid re-victimization of victims of migration related offences such as human trafficking and human smuggling. It also calls for the training and capacity building of duty bearers (Judiciary, Kenya Prison Service, Kenya Police, the Department of Immigration, the Federation of Kenya Employers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Refugee Affairs Secretariat etc.) on the standard human rights-based approach for handling and reporting on migration trends and offences.
Establishment of standardized minimum safeguards compliant with the international human rights law that protect and guide the treatment of all migrants in the country including irregular migrants, the report says, will ensure that all migrants are treated with dignity, humanity and respect and that the migrants are protected from arbitrariness and unlawfulness.
The report is also recommending review and standardization of communication channels and accountability mechanisms for the Judiciary, the Kenya Prison Service, Department of Immigration and the National Police Service regarding handling of migrants and advising on individual cases concerning migrants as well as the development of alternatives to detention (A2D) guidelines as a means of alternative dispute resolution for migrants found within the country for having violated migration laws.
The survey was carried out in 31 counties out of the 47 counties in the country namely: Nairobi, Nakuru, Bungoma, Mombasa, Baringo, Turkana, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kiambu, Machakos, Kitui, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Kajiado, Tana-River, Kwale, Kilifi, Taita-Taveta, Uasin-Gishu, Trans-nzoia, Laikipia, Meru, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Isiolo, Kisumu, Busia, Migori, Kakamega, Kwale and Murang‘a.