Summary: Kenyan court finds separation of refugee children from their parents unconstitutional

Kenya, 18th December 2015: In 2014, SRT grantee Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) went to court seeking orders to declare the separation of refugee children from their parents during the “Usalama Watch” security operation as unconstitutional. On 18th December 2015, a verdict was delivered in favour of RCK and the court ordered that the 48 children, on whose behalf the petition was brought, be re-united with their parents.

Operation “Usalama Watch” (security watch) was launched on 5th April 2014 by the Kenyan government, ostensibly for purposes of preserving national security. The operation involved the rounding up of hundreds of foreign nationals including refugees and asylum seekers, particularly in Nairobi County. One of the outcomes of the operation included the separation of children from their parents, which caused suffering to the children left behind and was the reason that RCK filed the petition.

A blanket condemnation of refugees and asylum seekers is against the basic foundations of human rights envisioned in Kenya’s constitution and Refugees Act 2006. The court found that RCK had succeeded in proving that the Kenyan government had violated the rights of the children. The court also noted that the government had failed to clearly demonstrate the connection between the insecurity in the country and the presence of urban refugees, and therefore the restrictive measures taken led to further infringement of the rights of the children. The court ordered for the children to be re-united with their parents, and an award of 50,000 KES (£340.00) to be paid to each of the 48 children affected.

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