Kenyan arrested in Saudi Arabia on trafficking claim seeks justice


Peter Kalisto has been in detention at Riyadh Deportation Centre in Saudi Arabia since April 19, 2021. [Courtesy]

On June 22, 2020, Peter Kalisto, 43, a Kenyan, was arrested in Saudi Arabia on claims he was trafficking women into the Middle East.

Mr Kalisto, a licensed house driver in Saudi Arabia since May 2015, was taken to the Immigration Division offices in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia for interrogation.

He has been in detention at Riyadh Deportation Centre since April 19, 2021, alongside many detainees from Kenya and other countries. Mr Kalisto is also accused of causing chaos.

His detention came to the attention of the Kenyan Parliament on November 3, 2021.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja spoke of Kalisto’s detention in the Senate and urged the government to help bring him and other detainees back to Kenya.

“One Kalisto was abducted and detained at the deportation centre. Kalisto is not a criminal but a member of a community that helps Kenyans needing help while living in the Middle East,” said Mr Sakaja.

He noted that although Mr Kalisto had been arrested, he had never been charged since June 2020.

“We want him either charged, released or deported back to his home country,” he said.

A letter dated February 15, 2018 signed by Ibrahim Khamis, a Kenyan deputy Ambassador in Saudi Arabia confirmed that Mr Kalisto was a member of Kenyan Jaaliat Group in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The group, according to the letter, helped sick Kenyans, those in prison, police stations and also helped bring bodies of Kenyan Citizen back home.

“The group also helped in interpretation services to Kenyans who do not understand Arabic language. Kindly accord Mr Kalisto any assistance he needs,” read the letter.

Speaking to The Standard, Kalisto said he has never faced his accuser to date and when he asks questions he is always told the complainant is the Kenyan Embassy.

He said he has gone through a lot, including getting sick, and almost losing his mother who fell ill after she learn about his situation.

“We are more than 200 people in a single room, sometimes 300. We have no place to sleep and sometimes the food is not enough for us,” he said.

The Kenyan Embassy is said to have reported Kalisto to the Saudi Arabian government, but since then he has never been found guilty. His cases were dismissed, he claimed.

He claimed that attempts to contact the embassy have been futile and wants the government to help him.

Joakim Ongidi, Kalisto’s brother, told The Standard on phone that he last saw his brother in 2017. “What Kalisto is going through is inhuman.”

When contacted, the office of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said they were not aware of the case.

“There are many cases in Saudi Arabia, has the person detained contacted us? We cannot know all the detainees,” said the person who received the call but wanted to remain anonymous.