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Protect the ‘right of existence’ of minorities

By | March 13th 2009

Nationality rights is not an issue that receives much attention in this country, so it is quite heartening to learn that much progress has been made, thanks to quiet pressure from civil society.

A global report on statelessness says some 100,000 Nubians in Kenya have had less difficulty obtaining national identity cards, particularly since they filed lawsuits in 2003 and 2004 against the Government in the High Court and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights based in the Gambia. Allowing them to enjoy the same basic rights as other citizens is a commendable first step. It ought to be followed by the inclusion of their concerns in land reform processes aimed at untangling historical knots.

It may also do to consider afresh whether Galjeel Somalis, who were deprived of citizenship in 1989 when the Government confiscated their identity cards and branded them non-Kenyans, were wrongfully disposessed.

"Being stateless", says the report, "means having no legal protection or right to participate in political processes, inadequate access to health care and education, poor employment prospects, little opportunity to own property, travel restrictions, social exclusion, vulnerability to trafficking, harassment and violence."

Historical Accident

This should not be a fate anyone wishes upon any community which, through distant historical accident, finds itself settled and raising new generations within our borders, with no hope or possibility of ever returning to their country of origin.

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