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Kenya

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law prohibit such actions, except “to promote public benefit,” but authorities sometimes infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. The law permits police to enter a home without a search warrant if the time required to obtain a warrant would prejudice an investigation. Although security officers generally obtained search warrants, they occasionally conducted searches without warrants in the course of large-scale security sweeps to apprehend suspected criminals or to seize property believed stolen.

On April 2, according to the subsequent IPOA report, police officers from the General Service Unit deployed to the University of Nairobi; they entered academic and dormitory buildings, evicted, and then assaulted approximately 30 students with batons. The incident received extensive media coverage after a live video clip was widely shared on social media. Many students sustained serious injuries from police batons, including bone fractures. Both IPOA and the IAU initiated investigations into the events, but the investigations were frustrated by a lack of police cooperation. No charges against police officers had been filed as of October 25.

Human rights organizations reported police officers raided homes in informal settlements in Nairobi and communities in the coast region in search of suspected terrorists and weapons. The organizations documented numerous cases in which plainclothes police officers searched residences without a warrant and household goods were confiscated when residents were unable to provide receipts of purchase on demand.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation. The government generally respected these rights but increasingly enforced restrictions on refugees’ movements. The government generally cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of concern.

Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: Police abuse of asylum seekers and refugees continued, with most reports coming from Nairobi’s predominantly Somali Eastleigh neighborhood.

Witnesses alleged security forces routinely confiscated or destroyed both expired and valid UN refugee documents and frequently demanded bribes to release persons in detention or in the process of arrest. According to media and NGO reports, police and military personnel mistreated refugees in retaliation for al-Shabaab attacks on security personnel.

The security situation in Dadaab remained precarious, although no new attacks on humanitarian workers occurred. Increased police presence in the camps led to some improvements and cooperation with refugees through community policing and neighborhood watch initiatives. Violence also occasionally flared over Dadaab host community protests about employment and priority contract rights related to the camp.

Gender-based violence remained a problem in both the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps and in Nairobi, particularly for vulnerable populations including women, children, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) refugees. Reported incidents included domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, physical assault, psychological abuse, FGM/C, and forced marriage, particularly of young Sudanese, South Sudanese, and Somali girls. Refugee communities sometimes targeted opponents of FGM/C. Health and social workers in Kakuma refugee camp reported that, due to strong rape-awareness programs in the camp, survivors increasingly reported such incidents, resulting in improved access to counseling. In the Dadaab refugee camp, however, the government’s limited effectiveness and UNHCR’s restricted access and limited ability to provide services or protection resulted in higher numbers of cases of gender-based violence and underreporting of crimes and abuse, particularly against women and girls.

While mobile courts continued to serve the camp populations, most crimes went unreported. Refugees generally dealt with criminality in accordance with customary law and traditional practices rather than through the country’s justice system. Other security problems in refugee camps included petty theft, banditry, ethnic violence, and the harassment of Muslim converts to Christianity, according to UNHCR.

In-country Movement: The country hosted a very large refugee population. Prolonged insecurity and conflict in the region forced the country to play a leading role in coping with refugee flows, especially from Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Ethiopia. The government’s appeal of a 2013 High Court ruling that blocked a plan to relocate all urban refugees to camps remained unresolved. The government enforced an encampment policy, with Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps as the designated areas for refugees (see Protection below).

The government granted limited travel permission to refugees to receive specialized medical care outside the camps, to refugees enrolled in public schools, and to refugees in the resettlement pipeline. It made exceptions to the encampment policy for extremely vulnerable groups in need of protection. The government continued to provide in-country movement and exit permits for refugee interviews and departures for third-country resettlement.

From January through July, the Department of Refugee Affairs issued 2,896 temporary movement passes to refugees and asylum seekers. UNHCR reported that approximately 90 percent of the individuals returned to their camps by the time their passes expired. Authorities charged 240 refugees and asylum seekers with being unlawfully present in the country (under the Citizenship and Immigration Act) and residing without authority outside designated areas (under the Refugees Act). Of the 240 refugees and asylum seekers, authorities discharged 133 and returned them to the camps, convicted 98 and ordered them to pay fines or serve three to six months in prison, and continued the cases of nine as of year’s end.

INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS

The National Consultative Coordination Committee on IDPs (the committee) was created by the Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and Affected Communities Act of 2012 (IDP Act); however, the committee did not meet and begin to implement the IDP Act until April 2015. According to the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, in 2015 the committee completed the resettlement of more than 10,000 IDPs who remained in camps after the 2007-08 postelection violence.

Violence in Mandera County in 2014 between the communities of Mandera North District and Banisa District, and on the border between Mandera and Wajir Counties, resulted in displacement of an estimated 32,000 households. According to the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, the committee provided Mandera County with financial assistance for 6,890 IDP households that had not been able to return home, and construction of new homes had commenced.

Water scarcity exacerbated communal conflict and left an unknown number of citizens internally displaced. IDPs from all locations generally congregated in informal settlements and camps. Living conditions in such settlements and camps remained poor, with rudimentary housing and little public infrastructure or services. Grievances and violence between IDPs and host communities were generally resource based and occurred when IDPs attempted to graze livestock or gather food and fuel locally. In the north IDP settlements primarily consisted of displaced ethnic Ethiopians and Somalis and were targets of clan and resource-based violence.

The Ministry of Devolution and Planning reported that citizens who had fled a 2015 security operation to flush al-Shabaab from the Boni Forest in Lamu and southern Garissa Counties returned to their homes.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has a system for providing protection to camp-based refugees. While the government generally coordinated with UNHCR to provide assistance and protection to refugees in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, cooperation was limited in urban areas. Security threats emanating from Somalia strained the government’s ability to provide security to those seeking asylum, especially in Dadaab. The government permitted registration of new refugee arrivals only during specific time periods–most recently between July and August 2015. Since that time, no registration of new arrivals took place, and there were an estimated 4,000 unregistered persons of concern, mostly from Somalia, in need of adjudication. In May the government revoked prima facie status–a group determination of refugee status–for newly arrived asylum seekers from Somalia and did not provide individual refugee status determination to new Somali refugee arrivals.

According to UNHCR, as of October the country hosted more than 500,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers: in Dadaab refugee camp an estimated 282,200, in Kakuma camp approximately 158,200, and in the Nairobi area an estimated 63,800. The unofficial estimate of refugees in urban areas was nearly 100,000. The majority of refugees and asylum seekers were from Somalia (334,728), with others coming from South Sudan (90,247), the DRC (27,485), Ethiopia (26,742), Sudan (9,790), and other countries (13,202). Most refugees arriving in Kakuma were from South Sudan, and the refugee population in Dadaab was primarily of Somali origin. New arrivals also included individuals from Burundi, the DRC, Ethiopia, and Uganda. The Somali refugee influx was lower than in previous years. In 2013 the governments of Kenya and Somalia and UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement, which expired in November; it established a legal framework and process for the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees when conditions permitted such returns. Under the agreement UNHCR began facilitating voluntary returns to Somalia in December 2014 and had supported the return of more than 30,200 Somali refugees as of October 25.

In May the government again announced that it planned to close the Dadaab camps for reasons of security and economic burdens when the tripartite agreement expired in November; however, in mid-November the government announced it would close the camp within six months. Officially, the country encouraged Somali refugees to return voluntarily to Somalia. UNHCR continued to provide both financial and transportation support to refugees voluntarily returning to Somalia. In September, NGO Human Rights Watch released a report that questioned the voluntariness of Somali refugee returns from Kenya and accused officials of violating international law by intimidating refugees into returning to insecure conditions in Somalia. In November, Amnesty International also issued a report alleging the government was forcing refugees to return to Somalia.

In addition to the May announcement of plans to close Dadaab, the government also in May disbanded the Department of Refugee Affairs and replaced it with a new Refugee Affairs Secretariat to carry out the department’s previous work.

Negotiations concerning land for a new camp near Kakuma among UNHCR, the government, and host community in Turkana County concluded in 2015. The county governor signed over land to UNHCR for the new Kalobeyei Integrated Refugee Settlement, planned to host 60,000 refugees and benefit thousands of Kenyan nationals from the host community once completed. The new model was designed, in coordination with Turkana County, to increase the economic integration of refugees with the host community and improve access to income-generating activities, education, and health care for both refugees and citizens.

No official national refugee count existed because the government stopped registering refugees in urban areas in 2012 and in Dadaab camp in 2011. In Kakuma there remained a backlog of cases for registration and refugee status determination of new refugees. This backlog was compounded when the government disbanded the Department of Refugee Affairs.

Refoulement: On November 2, the government forcibly sent South Sudanese opposition spokesman James Gatdet Dak to South Sudan, despite the risk of torture. In a statement UNHCR expressed its deep concern, noting that Dak had previously been granted refugee status by Kenyan authorities.

There were also multiple reports released by advocacy organizations alleging undue government pressure on refugees in Dadaab camp to repatriate voluntarily to Somalia and that inadequate information was provided to prospective refugees about conditions in areas of return inside Somalia.

STATELESS PERSONS

The constitution and the 2011 Citizen and Immigration Act provide for the protection of stateless persons and for legal avenues for eligible stateless persons to apply for citizenship. In September, UNHCR estimated that 20,000 stateless persons were registered in the country; the actual number, however, was unknown. According to UNHCR stateless persons accounted for 3.5 percent of all registered refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Communities known to UNHCR as stateless included Sudanese Nubians in Nairobi, the Somali Galjeel in the Tana River area, the Mozambican Makonde in Mombasa, and the Pemba in Kwale. There were also a number of stateless persons of mixed Eritrean-Ethiopian heritage. On October 13, President Kenyatta issued a directive that the government should issue national identity cards to all eligible Makonde persons by December and ensure that members of the community are issued title deeds for land they own. The Makonde applicants had not received their cards or title deeds at year’s end.

Although legal safeguards and pathways to citizenship for stateless persons exist, the government lacked a strategy to identify and register them, significantly limiting their ability to acquire legal residence or citizenship. Stateless persons had limited legal protection and encountered travel restrictions, social exclusion, and heightened vulnerability to trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence, exploitation, forced displacement, and other abuses. UNHCR reported that stateless persons faced restrictions on internal movement and limited access to basic services, property ownership, and registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Inadequate documentation sometimes resulted in targeted harassment and extortion by law enforcement officials and exploitation in the informal labor sector.

National registration policies require citizens age 18 and older to register and obtain national identification documents from the National Registration Bureau. Failure to do so is a crime. Groups with historical or ethnic ties to other countries faced higher burdens of proof in the registration process. For example, Nubians, along with ethnic Somalis (such as the Galjeel community) and Muslims on the coast, experienced discriminatory registration policies that led to statelessness, according to UNHCR and domestic legal aid organizations (see section 3).

The deadline for stateless persons to apply to be considered for citizenship expired on August 30. Article 15(2) of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act of 2011 provides that the cabinet secretary may extend that deadline for three years. It was unclear as of October if there would be an extension.

Many stateless persons did not qualify for protection under the local refugee determination apparatus. Among these were Somali refugees born in Kenyan refugee camps and Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees.

Pursuant to the 2011 finding by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child that the government should grant citizenship to children of Nubian descent, during the year the government established a vetting committee of Nubian elders to identify children of Nubian descent who are eligible for registration. As of year’s end the committee had not completed this process.

In 2013 then cabinet secretary for land charity Ngilu announced the allocation of 300 acres of public land to a private group representing the Nubian Council of Elders for the settlement of stateless persons. The cabinet secretary, however, left office before the titles were transferred, and there was no progress on this matter. The Nubian Council of Elders sought additional assistance from civil society organizations to obtain the land titles. The council asserted an ancestral claim to approximately 700 acres of land, including the large Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi. UNHCR reported that the National Action Plan to eradicate statelessness in Kenya had been completed but not yet approved by the government.

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