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Latvia man jailed for smuggling miraa from Nairobi into UK

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Latvia man jailed for smuggling miraa from Nairobi into UK

By ALLAN TAWAI

A man who was caught trafficking miraa from Nairobi to the UK has been jailed for ten months by a judge at Warwick Crown Court.

The 27-year old Nauris Ennitis from Latvia, pleaded guilty to the illegal importation of 35 kilograms of miraa with a value of Sh. 2,800, 000 (£20,000) into the UK where the plant is a banned class C drug.

The defendant had arrived at London City Airport on a flight from Zurich having originally travelled from Nairobi.

Prosecutor Madhu Rai told the court that in September 2017, Ennitis was stopped by a UK Border Agency officer who had spotted him pushing two large suitcases which he later said he had packed himself.

The court was told that when the officer questioned the accused whether he had been given anything to carry, Ennitis immediately admitted by saying “Yes, I’ve got khat in there. It’s all mine, no-one else has anything to do with it. I just wanted to make some money.”

The two suitcases were stripped open and officers found cloth-wrapped bundles of miraa. The suspect admitted on the spot that he knew it was illegal to bring miraa into the UK, but he was going to gain from importing it.

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During the interview, Ennitis said a friend in Kenya had offered to pay him Sh. 140, 000 (£1,000) once he had successfully delivered the drug into the UK.

The prosecutor, Miss Rai, pointed out migrant population from East Africa countries as the main market for the leafy plant which is chewed and has a similar effect to amphetamine, the court also heard that at the time of the case, Ennitis was subject to a 12-week suspended sentenced imposed for breaching a community order he had originally received for driving with excess alcohol.

Speaking via a video link from the prison where he had been on remand, Ennitis, who was representing himself explained that he had breached the suspended sentence and it had been activated in full last month. Regarding miraa offence, he acknowledged “I knew it was illegal, the only reason I was doing it was because I had lost my previous property, and I needed to get a new property,” he said

Ennitis also told the court that, with the exception of last month, he had been consistently working and paying taxes since moving to the UK from Latvia.
He said: “I feel remorse about it. It was a bad thing to do.”

While delivering the judgement the judge said: “You were being paid for that. You needed money because you were in debt, but there are other ways of getting money. You could have done more overtime, but you chose to go down this course. But it is clear you are showing great shame for what you did, and you were entirely honest when you were caught. I very much trust this is the last time the courts are troubled by you, and that you can go back to being a hard-working citizen of this country.”

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In 2013, the Dutch government banned miraa exports denying Kenya over Sh1.5 billion in annual revenue.

Soon after, the UK declared miraa a class C drug and banned all imports, leaving Kenyan farmers with Somalia as the only major market.

 

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Diaspora

Kenyan students in US ponder next move after order to leave

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International students, among them hundreds of Kenyans currently in the US, are scrambling to figure out what next a week after America’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rolled out new guidelines stating that those whose institutions were only offering online classes would be required to leave the country.

ICE and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program also say new student visas won’t be granted for online-only instruction. The agencies cited the Covid-19 pandemic in making the changes.

“This rule has brought a lot of anxiety and fear among us Kenyan international students in the US. The directive is not even clear and so there’s just uncertainty and we don’t know what to do,” said Mordecai Njoroge, a Kenyan-born student at Cornerstone University in Michigan.

Mr Njoroge is one of an estimated 3,451 Kenyan students enrolled in US institutions of higher learning in the 2018- 2019 academic year, who could be affected by the changes.

SCHOCKER

The new guidelines from ICE state that international students would be forced to leave the US or transfer to other colleges if their schools entirely offer classes online this fall.

This rule came as a shocker to many colleges, students, and professors with most big universities and colleges scrambling to go to court to stop it.

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“I have been receiving a lot of phone calls from my students in New York asking to know what this exactly means to them. Many are feeling that they are being unfairly punished because the university does not offer face-to-face classes for the Fall because of unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic conditions beyond their control,” Said Prof David Monda, a lecturer at City University of New York (CUNY)

He noted that poorly thought out policy of US immigration has thrown the educational plans of many foreign students into disarray. They could lose their scholarships and get deported for being out of status. In addition, Prof Monda said, many students are themselves parents which poses the real challenge of separating families.

“To me, this appears to be a blatant political ploy from the Trump Administration to gain cheap political points on immigration for the November election. It is also a way to force institutions of higher learning to open face-to-face classes prematurely. I’m sure it will become immediately challenged in court. Harvard University and MIT have already begun proceedings,” he added.

ANXIETY

Prof Jerono Rotich, founder and CEO of Kenya Students in Diaspora (KESID) Foundation said majority of international students are grappling with this new development that they are now living in heightened fear, anxiety and uncertainty in the midst of the pandemic.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Kenya's first ever Airport hotel opens at JKIA, has 144 beds and cost $30m to build

She says the announcement has sparked immediate and intense confusion and is likely to disrupt normal semester activities.

“The unsettling feeling for most of these students is the thought of abandoning studies, the uncertainties of their health especially in airports if they have to travel back home given the recent cases of a majority of airline workers contracting Covid-19 and most succumbing to it,” she said.

Prof Rotich said this move, ignores the preparation, plans and investment international students had in place for the remainder of the year.

“Literally, it throws them under the bus! Bypassing years of tumultuous pain and the sacrifice (financial and emotional) international students go through to get to the US for better education. Given that most came to the US for quality education, it raises more questions than answers on the future of international students in the US. If a looming pandemic can threaten the place of the international students in the US, then it raises doubts for anyone planning to enrol for future education in the US,” she added.

BIG QUESTION

Mr Njoroge wondered what had changed to make the Trump administration resort to such extreme measures given that earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security had given some flexibility for the students by allowing most of us to end the semester online.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Kidero surprises many as he says God has chosen Sonko as governor, showers him with praise

Mr Njoroge noted many colleges have plans to institute hybrid classes that entail online and face-to-face interactions.

“The biggest question now is what implications will this have on our studies in the short and long term? What happens when schools start physical lessons and potentially go online again due to the potential second wave,” he wondered.

By Chris Wamalwa, Sunday Nation

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Diaspora

Kenyan students in US ponder next move after order to leave

Published

on

International students, among them hundreds of Kenyans currently in the US, are scrambling to figure out what next a week after America’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rolled out new guidelines stating that those whose institutions were only offering online classes would be required to leave the country.

ICE and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program also say new student visas won’t be granted for online-only instruction. The agencies cited the Covid-19 pandemic in making the changes.

“This rule has brought a lot of anxiety and fear among us Kenyan international students in the US. The directive is not even clear and so there’s just uncertainty and we don’t know what to do,” said Mordecai Njoroge, a Kenyan-born student at Cornerstone University in Michigan.

Mr Njoroge is one of an estimated 3,451 Kenyan students enrolled in US institutions of higher learning in the 2018- 2019 academic year, who could be affected by the changes.

The new guidelines from ICE state that international students would be forced to leave the US or transfer to other colleges if their schools entirely offer classes online this fall.

This rule came as a shocker to many colleges, students, and professors with most big universities and colleges scrambling to go to court to stop it.

READ ALSO:   UK investors to develop 80,000 affordable houses in Kenya

“I have been receiving a lot of phone calls from my students in New York asking to know what this exactly means to them. Many are feeling that they are being unfairly punished because the university does not offer face-to-face classes for the Fall because of unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic conditions beyond their control,” Said Prof David Monda, a lecturer at City University of New York (CUNY)

He noted that poorly thought out policy of US immigration has thrown the educational plans of many foreign students into disarray. They could lose their scholarships and get deported for being out of status. In addition, Prof Monda said, many students are themselves parents which poses the real challenge of separating families.

“To me, this appears to be a blatant political ploy from the Trump Administration to gain cheap political points on immigration for the November election. It is also a way to force institutions of higher learning to open face-to-face classes prematurely. I’m sure it will become immediately challenged in court. Harvard University and MIT have already begun proceedings,” he added.

ANXIETY

Prof Jerono Rotich, founder and CEO of Kenya Students in Diaspora (KESID) Foundation said majority of international students are grappling with this new development that they are now living in heightened fear, anxiety and uncertainty in the midst of the pandemic.

READ ALSO:   PHOTOS: See how protest rally outside Nairobi US embassy over Floyd's death went down

She says the announcement has sparked immediate and intense confusion and is likely to disrupt normal semester activities.

“The unsettling feeling for most of these students is the thought of abandoning studies, the uncertainties of their health especially in airports if they have to travel back home given the recent cases of a majority of airline workers contracting Covid-19 and most succumbing to it,” she said.

Prof Rotich said this move, ignores the preparation, plans and investment international students had in place for the remainder of the year.

“Literally, it throws them under the bus! Bypassing years of tumultuous pain and the sacrifice (financial and emotional) international students go through to get to the US for better education. Given that most came to the US for quality education, it raises more questions than answers on the future of international students in the US. If a looming pandemic can threaten the place of the international students in the US, then it raises doubts for anyone planning to enrol for future education in the US,” she added.

BIG QUESTION

Mr Njoroge wondered what had changed to make the Trump administration resort to such extreme measures given that earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security had given some flexibility for the students by allowing most of us to end the semester online.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Kenya's first ever Airport hotel opens at JKIA, has 144 beds and cost $30m to build

Mr Njoroge noted many colleges have plans to institute hybrid classes that entail online and face-to-face interactions.

“The biggest question now is what implications will this have on our studies in the short and long term? What happens when schools start physical lessons and potentially go online again due to the potential second wave,” he wondered.

-By Chris Wamalwa, nation.co.ke

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Diaspora

Kenyan passport still highly ranked amid Covid-19 pandemic

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The Kenyan passport has defied the Covid-19 pandemic to retain position 72 among the most powerful passports in the world, this according to a newly released Henley Passport Index.

The index, periodically measures the world’s most travel-friendly passports, based on the number of destinations their holders can access visa-free or visa-on-arrival.

VISA-FREE ACCESS

According to the latest index, the Japanese passport opens more doors than any other passport in the world.

The Japanese passport, offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 191 destinations around the world, topped the rankings, followed by Singapore (190 destinations) while the South Korean passport tied with the German passport in third place with a score of 189.

The Kenyan passport, whose holder can access 71 destinations around the world without a visa or visa-on-arrival, is ranked at seventh in the continent, behind Seychelles (151 destinations), Mauritius (145), South Africa (101), Botswana (82), Namibia (75), Lesotho (74), and Swaziland (72).

The Kenyan passport also commands a relatively high score in comparison to those from other East African countries.

Amanda Smit, the Managing Partner and Head of South, East, and Central Africa at Henley, hailed the Kenyan passport’s resilience in retaining its position.

TEMPORARY BANS

“The much-considered destinations are the ones which have effectively handled the coronavirus outbreak, and especially those which have declared themselves virus-free. International airline travel is still on halt, but it is to be expected that more people will look at various destinations to settle as soon as airspace is open,” she said.

READ ALSO:   UK investors to develop 80,000 affordable houses in Kenya

Research using exclusive historical data from the index has revealed that there is a strongly positive connection between visa freedom and a variety of indicators of economic freedom, government integrity, and personal or political freedom.

The Henley Passport Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.

Henley & Partners said the recent ranking did not take temporary bans into account.

The best passports to hold in 2020:

1. Japan (191 destinations)

2. Singapore (190)

3. South Korea, Germany (189)

4. Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg (188)

5. Denmark, Austria (187)

6. Sweden, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Ireland (186)

7. Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium (185)

8. Greece, New Zealand, Malta, Czech Republic (184)

9. Canada, Australia (183)

10. Hungary (181)

The worst passports to hold:

103. North Korea (39 destinations)

104. Libya, Nepal, Palestinian Territory (38)

105. Somalia, Yemen (33)

106. Pakistan (32)

107. Syria (29)

108. Iraq (28)

109. Afghanistan (26)

By Nairobi News

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