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VIDEO: Eugene Wamalwa’s relative to be deported from US after court rejects appeal

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BY CHRIS WAMALWA

A relative of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa is to be deported from the US after his appeal for political asylum was denied.

Dr Mzenga Aggrey Wanyama, who teaches at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and his wife Mary Namalwa Mzenga, have attracted huge support as they face deportation from a country they have lived in for 25 years.

“Well, what can I do? If they want me to buy my own ticket, I will do that,” he told the Minneapolis-based StarTribune newspaper on Thursday. Dr Wanyama told the publication that he had resigned himself to the deportation at a time when US President Donald Trump is increasingly taking a hard-line stance on immigration.

On Friday, Dr Wanyama and his wife met in the Twin Cities (Saint Paul and Minneapolis) with officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to review their case and discuss plans for deportation.

REPORT TO IMMIGRATION

Dr Wanyama was ordered to report back to the immigration officials next month to plan for his repatriation to Kenya, even as his university and the community of Minneapolis-Saint Paul put pressure on immigration authorities to spare him.

 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement that Dr Wanyama was a pillar in the community and the region was better for his work.

“No president, no federal agency will deport Dr Wanyama without a fight from me, from our partners in the state and federal delegations, and from the thousands of people in Minneapolis who share our values,” said Mr Frey.

ENTERED US IN 1992

Dr Wanyama first entered the US in 1992 as a non-immigrant exchange visitor.

He was followed in 1995 by his wife and children Billy Levin Mzenga, 30, and Billy Masibai Mzenga, 26.

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The two children are protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme.

A third son, a 19-year-old attending the University of Minnesota, was born in the US and is a citizen.

ASYLUM

Upon expiration of his visa in 2005, Dr Wanyama applied for asylum.

He claimed he will be persecuted in Kenya primarily on account of an article he wrote in The Standard newspaper in 2004 criticising the government of President Mwai Kibaki and praising his opponent Raila Odinga.

Dr Wanyama told a US immigration judge that the Kenyan government began harassing his family members in Kenya after the article was published.

He claimed that his brother was fired as managing director of a parastatal, and an MP made “suspicious remarks” to Dr Wanyama’s mother, questioning her about his activities and whereabouts. Several other family members sent emails to Dr Wanyama telling him he should not return to Kenya for safety reasons, he testified before the judge.

POLITICAL OPPONENT

Additionally, as his removal proceedings progressed, Dr Wanyama wrote two more articles in The Standard newspaper supporting Mr Odinga’s candidacy in the 2007 General Election.

After the articles were published, Dr Wanyama claimed the Kenyan government intensified its focus on him as a political opponent based on his involvement with an American political group that supported Mr Odinga.

“To illustrate the danger of being identified as a political opponent, he testified about two of Kibaki’s opponents that he believes suffered persecution at the hands of the government,” United Courts of Appeal for the Eight Circuit heard in 2012.

He told the court that his cousin Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa’s death in a London Hospital in 2003 after a long illness, was under “suspicious circumstances”.

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“Wanyama theorised that Kibaki’s government was responsible because Wamalwa was slated to succeed Kibaki as president pursuant to a memorandum of understanding,” the court heard.

DON’S MURDER

He also testified about a professor from the University of Nairobi whom he believed was murdered for proposing the transfer of some power from the presidency to a new prime minister’s position, the court further heard.

The professor in question is likely to be Dr Crispin Odhiambo Mbai who was gunned down in his Nairobi home by unknown assailants in September 2003.

At the time of his death, Dr Mbai was a delegate and the chairman of the sub-committee on devolution of power at the National Constitutional Conference of Kenya.

After a hearing in April 2008, the immigration judge closed the proceedings, but asked the parties to submit additional documentation.

In December 2009, the judge reopened Dr Wanyama’s case to allow the parties to submit additional evidence, which included evidence of improved country conditions as a result of the formation of the grand coalition government in Kenya in 2008.

PERSECUTION

Although it was found Wanyama’s testimony was credible to establish a subjective fear of persecution, the judge determined that Dr Wanyama failed to show an objectively reasonable fear of future persecution.

Dr Wanyama appealed the case to the Board of Immigration Appeals, where he also claimed the judge violated his due process rights by delaying his decision and reopening the case sua sponte(without formal prompting from another party) in December 2009, thereby allowing the US government to present evidence of recently improved country conditions in Kenya.

The board affirmed the immigration judge’s decision because it found that the lecturer’s testimony could not support an objectively reasonable fear of future persecution, and it denied his due process claim.

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APPEAL

Dr Wanyama then took his case to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit which also ruled against him in November 2012.

“In summary, after reviewing the record, we affirm the denial of Wanyama’s petition for asylum on behalf of himself and his family,” the court ruled.

The Wanyamas case, like many others in the US, has gained a sense of urgency in the wake of President Trump administration’s pledges to tighten border security and step up efforts to deport those who are in the country illegally.

The president of Augsburg University Paul Pribbenow on Thursday joined supporters who fear that a professor is being unfairly targeted for deportation despite his many years as a higher education instructor and crime-free life in the US.

ROLE MODEL

“Dr Wanyama is a role model for the professional aspirations and accomplishments of future leaders in our city and country,” Mr Pribbenow told the StarTribune. “We strongly stand behind him and believe he should be able to stay in the US.”

Ms Sarah Wairimu Brooks, a Kenyan lawyer based in Dallas, Texas, cautions Kenyans living in the US who find themselves in similar circumstances to be wary of signing documents from immigration officers in the absence of a credible immigration lawyer.

“Wanyama’s and other similar cases, which by the way run into thousands if not millions, were previously deemed as low priority by immigration during the Obama administration, in part because he is a full-time professor and has no criminal record. But, in the Trump administration, these are some of the people that are considered to be taking away jobs from Americans,” she said.

-Nation.co.ke

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Reprieve for families in Ethiopian Airlines crash as renowned US lawyer takes up case 

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Kenya was the worst hit when Ethiopian Airlines plane Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed near the town of Bishoftu on 10th March 2019 killing all 157 passengers on board. A total of 32 Kenyans died in that crash, making Kenya the most affected country.

It has been five months since the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash, affected families have been locked in a legal tussle with US plane manufacturer Boeing for close to half a year now.

Families who lost their kin in the deadly crash can now breathe a sigh of relief as renowned US-based lawyer Manuel von Ribbeck has filed additional lawsuits against Boeing.

For starters, Manuel von Ribbeck is a lawyer who focuses on representing victims of catastrophic incidents, including aviation disasters from human or mechanical errors.

Manuel von Ribbeck (left)Manuel von Ribbeck (left)

Lion Air

Ribbeck is basically the hope of many aircraft accident victims throughout the world. He also represented families who lost their kin in Indonesian carrier – Lion Air Flight 610, which is the same model with Ethiopian Airlines plane Boeing 737 MAX 8. The October 29th 2018 Lion Air crash killed all 189 passengers and crew on board.

Ribbeck’s law firm – Ribbeck Law Chartered and its co-counsels Global Aviation Law Group and Igeria and Ngugi Advocates filed additional lawsuits against Boeing in the case involving Ethiopian Airlines plane crash.

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A total of 66 affected family members are seeking $1 billion/Ksh 100 billion in compensation for damages from the American plane manufacturer.

The renowned lawyer seeks to consolidate the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines cases if no settlement is reached soon for his clients. The law firms argue that consolidating the two cases will solve the issue of contradicting orders if the cases are handled by different judges.

By Ghafla

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Catholic doctors oppose cervical cancer vaccination

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The government is set to roll out mass vaccination of girls against cervical cancer in two weeks, even as doctors affiliated to the Catholic Church have contested the move citing a myriad of health complications.

The Ministry of Health will give 10-year-old girls two free doses of the vaccine against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV), six months apart, at about 9,000 public, private and faith-based facilities countrywide.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends vaccination of all girls and screening, at least once every year, for older women to reduce cancer risk, and the vaccine is most effective when administered between the ages of nine and 14.

There are about 100 types of HPV, of which at least 14 cause cancer. Two HPV types (16 and 18) cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers and cervical lesions.

The ministry met its partners Tuesday morning in preparation for the HPV national roll-out and to touch base on the local cancer landscape.

“The HPV vaccine is an extraordinary vaccine. It is the most effective means of preventing cervical cancer and is very safe. I am also a father of girls and all of them have received the vaccine. By vaccinating our girls against HPV we are preventing the disease for life. They will be able to grow, live up to their full potential and prosper,” said WHO Kenya Rep Dr Rudi Eggers, during the briefing.

MoH targets to reduce cases of cancer of the cervix — the second most common in Kenya after breast cancer, according to recent statistics released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

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The disease claims about seven women in Kenya every day, about 3,000 per year, according to statistics from the MoH.

There are about 40,000 new cervical cancer cases annually. Globally, it is the fourth most frequent cancer in women.

“It is unfortunate that we lose seven women to cancer every day. This is preventable through vaccination. If you prevent HPV infection then you can prevent cervical cancer,” said the Ministry of Health Head of Immunisation, Dr Collins Tabu, during the stakeholders meeting held Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA), in a 19-page document, questioned the decision to have 10-year-old girls vaccinated against HPV.

The doctors said their objection to the roll-out of the vaccine was backed by “studies” that indicated that the HPV vaccine was harmful to humans. “At 10 years, our children are not sexually active. They are not at risk of contracting HPV or other STDs. This applies also to other individuals who are not sexually active. It also includes those who are sexually active but faithful to their partners,” said the KCDA chairman, Dr Stephen Karanja, in the statement.

“It therefore makes neither logical nor scientific sense to expose children to a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease that they are not at risk of contracting. These children must be protected by everyone including the government from promiscuity and helped to remain chaste.”

Top health experts, however, termed the claims “sensational and unfounded.” Kenyatta National Hospital’s (KNH) top gynaecologist and surgeon Dr Alfred Mokomba said past clinical researches showed that the vaccine was effective and safe for use on children.

He said the vaccine was a preventive measure and was cheaper than cancer treatment, and would bring down the local cancer burden.

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“The work of a vaccine is to provide cushion before exposure and that is how they work better-because the body builds up defence against the virus. I have taken my daughters for the vaccination; it is safe. Those opposed have no case at all, they need to come up with better evidence to show the risks,” he said.

“What we know so far is that the vaccine provides 90 per cent defence against cervical cancer. Two researches conducted at the KNH showed that the HPV vaccine was effective in dealing with the HPV types 16 and 18 virus — the common causes of cervical cancer locally,” added Dr Mokomba.

According to the Catholic doctors, the virus, like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), affected those “whose lifestyle involves irresponsible sexual behaviours”.

They, therefore, recommend that the government should ensure parents are empowered to “protect their children from contamination socially, mentally, spiritually, and physically from a world full of pornography.

“STDs are diseases of behaviour. When people of whatever age respect sexual discipline, chastity, abstinence and faithfulness in marriage, they are not at risk of contracting STDs and other diseases of perversity. These behaviours are the universal pillars of prevention of STDs, not vaccines,” said Dr Karanja. However, Mr David Makumi, the vice-chairman of Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya and patron Oncology Nurses (Kenya), said the KCDA’s claims were not backed by facts and that they did not represent every Catholic’s position.

“We have a golden opportunity and if we can fix this then we will have done a great job. We owe it to our children,” said Mr Makumi. Rumours of potential harm from vaccines are not new and continue to spread even as scientists refute the claims. Locally, select groups affiliated to the Catholic Church have in the past opposed polio and tetanus vaccination drives. In all instances, the government has carried on with its plans. However, a number of people fail to take their children for vaccination for fear of the “risks” pointed out by the church — which is an authority — putting others in danger.

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Mistrust in vaccines, for instance in America, has led to the worst Measles outbreak in 25 years.

As Kenya targets girls with the HPV vaccine, countries like Australia are also targeting boys to totally wipe-out the circulation of the cancer causing virus from its population.

Since HPV is transmitted sexually, vaccinating boys works in reducing its circulation of the virus linked to five per cent of cancers.

It is also a preventive measure for penile, anal and genital cancers and those of the head and neck.

Multiple studies in Australia indicate that the HPV vaccine has proven sufficient in providing protection. Australia’s Cervical Cancer screening programs ambitious plan includes wiping out cervical cancer by 2035.

Cost and access remains the greatest impediments towards early screening and treatment of cancer in Kenya to date.

Screening cost from about Sh3,000. Treatment too is costly with charges ranging Sh172,000 ($1,720) to Sh759,000 ($7,590) to treat cervical cancer without surgery in Kenya and Sh672,000 ($6,720) to Sh1.2 million ($12,500) if an operation is carried out, says the National Cancer Control Programme

by nation.co.ke

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New Zealand Speaker babysits MP’s child during parliament debate

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The speaker of New Zealand’s parliament has cradled a lawmaker’s baby while he presided over a debate in the House of Representatives.

Trevor Mallard tweeted a photo of himself feeding MP Tāmati Coffey’s baby boy in the speaker’s seat.

Mr Coffey, Labour MP for Waiariki, announced the birth of his son, Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey, in July.

The baby was born via a surrogate mother and is the biological son of Mr Coffey’s partner, Tim Smith.

In a tweet about the baby’s birth, Mr Coffey said he and his partner were “overwhelmed at the miracle of life” and the surrogate mother – a friend of Mr Smith – was “doing awesome”.

On Wednesday, Mr Coffey attended a parliamentary debate with his baby for the first time after returning from paternity leave.

BABYSITTER

During the session, father-of-three Mr Mallard took on the role of babysitter as well as speaker.

A picture of Mr Coffey holding up the baby in parliament was shared by Green Party MP Gareth Hughes on Twitter.

“Lovely to have a baby in the House, and what a beautiful one @tamaticoffey,” Mr Hughes wrote in the tweet.

Speaking to Newshub, Mr Coffey said he felt “really supported by my colleagues from across the House”.

Mr Coffey is the latest MP to bring his baby to parliament, following the example of politicians across the world.

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Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, who attended a debate with her baby in 2018, and Australian Senator Larissa Waters, who breastfed in parliament in 2017, are among the legislators to make headlines.

And in September last year, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made history by bringing her baby along to her debut speech at the UN in New York.

by nairobinews

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