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Tanzanian ex-MP still held in Kajiado, wife and children released

By Peterson Githaiga and Judah Ben-Hur | November 9th 2020 at 15:10:54 GMT +0300

Tanzanian Politician Godbless Lema in Kajiado Police station. [Courtesy]

The government is yet to deport the Tanzanian opposition politician Godless Lema who was arrested on Sunday evening. Lema is being held at the Kajiado Police Station.

According to the police, Lema is being detained at the station awaiting instruction from the ‘high office’.

Kajiado OCPD Daudi Lolonyokwe confirmed that the MP was still being detained.  However, he refused to comment farther saying it was an ‘international issue’ being decided from top echelons of government. 

Security remained tight at the police station with his lawyer Prof George Wajackyah protesting the arrest of his client.
In an interview with Standard Digital, the lawyer said he has already secured Lema's wife and his children and are now safe in the hands of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

''I’m very disappointed with the police officers from Ilbisil police station with the manner they miss-handled my client. However, I have secured the wife and the children and they are now safe at the UNHCR Nairobi offices,'' he said.
He said according to Article 2 of the UNHCR Statute of 1951, a person fleeing from persecution, does not need to present documents to be processed for asylum.

“The United Nations High Commission for Refugees which Kenya is signatory says that once one claims asylum in any country which is a member, the person is supposed to be processed through the UNHCR and that’s what ought to have happened. But up to now, they have locked up my client at the police station awaiting decisions from above,” Wajackoyah told KTN News in an interview.

Wajackoyah added Kenya risked committing a serious error of human rights violation if they mishandled Mr Lema’s case.

“As soon as you claim asylum, the clock stops there…Kenya will do a great error to return him to Tanzania… It will show the whole world that Kenya has sank very low as far as human rights are concerned,” he said.

The immediate former MP for Arusha Urban Constituency, who had served for two terms in his country, was arrested on Sunday last week, at Ilbissil 15 kilometres from Namanga border town in Kajiado County after he and his family crossed over through the Namanga border.

Tanzanian immigration officers raised an alarm and coordinated with Kenyan counterparts. His exile comes a week after the Dodoma government commenced a crackdown on opposition politicians after the disputed poll which saw President John Magufuli re-elected.

Reports emerged that the Nairobi government was planning his repatriation much to the dissatisfaction of pro-human rights bodies. 

Among them was Amnesty International that urged the Kenyan government not to deport Lema and his family citing hostile political environment and persecution.

In a statement sent to newsrooms, the body told the Kenya authority to abide by the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention which requires member states to provide unconditional asylum to refugees and political persecution victims.

“Transferring Godless Lema back to Tanzania, a country where he risks facing serious human rights violations, would itself amount to human rights violations. The government of Kenya is obligated to protect and provide sanctuary to Lema and his family,” he said in the statement.

He revealed that the protection clause contemplates that such people ought to be granted unconditional protection whether their entry into the host country is illegal or legal. And, any attempt to return Mr Lema and his family members to Tanzania will only amount to human rights violation in itself.

The 1951 Refugee Convention principle which is enforced by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reads: “…a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.”

Police at Namanga also confirmed the arrest of another Lazaro Nyalandu who was also arrested on his way to kenya seeking asylam.

He was arrest at Logido in Tanzania.


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