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Police hold foreigners ‘indefinitely’

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Crime Scene Tape

Police have been holding foreigners who are supposed to be deported, including a minor, in a cell for months after they cleared their jail terms.

The five, a United Kingdom national, three Rwandese and a minor of Somali origin are locked up at the Kasarani police station in Nairobi waiting for the day they will be sent back to their home country.

It remains unclear why they are still locked up in police cells, which is against the Kenyan law that states that a person should be held by the police for only 24 hours.

For the Rwandans, it is also against the East African Community (EAC) policy that one has the right to travel to any country in the region as long as they have an identity card of their country of origin.

When the Sunday Nation this week visited the station, the foreigners revealed that the experience in the cells was worse compared to what they went through at the Kerugoya Prisons in Kirinyaga County.

The Rwandese — Mr Gaspard Ukwizagira, Vincent Mushimimana and Ananias Syzikeye — have stayed in the cells longer than they stayed in prison.

“We have stayed inside the cells for six months compared to prison where we spent three months only and from the look of things we are not leaving this place any time soon,” Mr Syzikeye told the Sunday Nation, adding that for all that time he has never taken a shower.

According to him, for the whole time they have been staying at the station they have been hopeful that one day some saviour will walk in and demand that they be released.

The three were arrested on July 27, 2018 in Baricho, Kirinyaga County, as they were hawking in the busy town. Their mistake? They were engaging in business without permits.

“We agree that we committed an illegality and served time in jail but surely what are we still doing inside a police cell six months later? Is it really fair?” he posed.

They said they had been spending their time either seated or lying on the rough floor of their cell, which has a strong stench emanating from a bucket that serves as a toilet.

Mr Suzikeye said life in prison came with a number of benefits compared to that in the dark cells.

“In prison we have mentorship classes, one can study for a course of one’s choice unlike here where we are wasting our time,” he said, adding that they survived on one plate of food a day.

Mr Syezikeye regrets his decision to join his two other friends in the country after they assured him that he would make a lot of money from hawking.

“We have never even spoken to our relatives and probably they might be thinking that we died a long time ago,” he said.

The Sunday Nation has established that the Rwandan Embassy

was informed about the matter three weeks ago but little has been done to assist the three. Efforts to get a comment from the embassy proved futile as they neither replied to our emails nor answered our calls.

In the same cell and undergoing the same predicament is a 15-year-old minor who was first arrested on September 9, 2018, in Eastleigh and booked at the Pangani police station. His uncle, Mr Abdul Kadir, said that he was later taken to court and sent to the Juvenile prison in Kamiti until March 15 when he was brought to the station.

“It was even hard to trace the boy but we were later directed to the Kasarani police station where we found him,” said Mr Kadir.

He said that he was still shocked that Kenya was planning to repatriate the minor to Somalia, a land he claims he has never set foot in.

He claims that the boy was born in Wajir and came to the city after his parents died. Just like the Rwandese, the family of the minor also hopes that once he is repatriated to Somalia they can catch up with him.

source:Daily Nation

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Africa

Kenya ‘raring to go’ on free trade deal with US, Uhuru says

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Kenya’s negotiations with the US on an unprecedented two-way trade deal are on schedule to begin on July 7 despite difficulties posed by the coro-navirus pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Friday.

“Our team is raring to go,” he assured an online forum sponsored by the Washington-based Corporate Council on Africa.Kenya is aiming to create “sustainable jobs for our people” through what would be the first bilateral free-trade agreement between a sub-Saharan country and the nation with the world’s biggest economy, the President added.

The US also has much to gain from concluding such an arrangement, Mr Kenyatta suggested.Kenya is part of a continent that “requires everything from toothbrushes to machine tooling,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta also sought to allay concerns that a bilateral deal with the US could undermine the African Con-tinental Free Trade Area that is due to be implemented at the start of 2021.The Africa-wide initiative is “very important to us,” the President said, noting that Kenya has worked hard to ensure its success.

He suggested that a Kenya-US bilateral pact can complement the continental trade agreement and could serve as a model to be replicated by other individual countries.

“If we are successful in these negotiations, Kenya can act as a lead or guide,” the President said. “We will be the guinea pig so that many other African countries can follow suit.”

But Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, who also spoke at Friday’s forum, said the US has paid more attention to the possibility of a bilateral deal with Kenya than to the multilateral Africa trade agreement that will soon come into force.

While hailing the significance of a US-Kenya trade deal, Mr Akufo-Addo lamented that “the emphasis of America on exploring opportunities on the continent has not been quite as intense as some of us would have wished.”

Florizelle Liser, chief executive of the Corporate Council on Africa, said in an interview following the forum that the US has in fact worked to facilitate the Africa-wide trade agreement.A bilateral deal with Kenya is not an impediment to Africa’s efforts to forge a multilateral free-trade grouping, she added. The US side “understands that Kenya is part of the EAC,” Ms Liser said.

“They’re already looking at ways they can pull in other East African countries.”It could take as long as two years to conclude a Kenya-US trade deal, she added.

President Kenyatta noted in his remarks to the forum that Kenya was especially keen to start bilateral negoti-ations with the US because the existing multilateral preferential trade package known as Agoa is due to expire in 2025.

But President Akufo-Addo is not prepared to acquiesce to that projected termination date for Agoa. African countries that have benefited from Agoa should “look at the possibility of extending it,” he said.

Ms Liser, whose 27-year-old association includes most US companies operating in Africa, pointed out that it is up to the US Congress to decide whether Agoa’s scheduled expiration in five years will actually come to pass.The still-spreading pandemic is in-tensifying Africa’s need for increased trade and investment, the Kenyan and Ghanaian heads of state agreed.

Kenya managed to save many lives through swift implementation of virus-containment measures, Mr Kenyatta noted.

But, he acknowledged, those moves led to a sharp economic contraction and widespread loss of livelihoods.President Akufo-Addo pointed out that Ghana has recorded one of the lowest virus-related death rates in the world.His country has counted 15,473 cases of coronavirus, resulting in 95 deaths.Kenya has reported only about one-third as many cases but has seen 135 lives lost to the pandemic.

At the same time, Kenya Airways (KQ), grounded for the past three months by the coronavirus pandemic, will resume domestic flights in “the next couple of days,” President Kenyatta said.

The return to in-country service will coincide with the lifting of Kenya’s lockdown on travel between counties, Mr Kenyatta noted.The government will soon set a date for KQ to resume flying internationally, the President added.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we are back in the skies,” Mr Kenyatta said.“We’re eager to open up, but we have to make sure we all stay safe.”

The President’s announcement came on the same day that KQ chief executive Allan Kilavuka revealed that the airline has lost an estimated $100 million so far this year due to the pandemic and related lockdowns.Losses could approach $500 million by the end of 2020, Mr Kilavuka added.KQ had been struggling financially long before the coronavirus emerged.

It lost about $122 million in 2019, compared to $71 million the previous year.

By Sunday Nation.

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Africa

Somali ‘incapable’ of removing Shabaab – US

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Somalia’s army remains “incapable” of ousting Al-Shabaab from its strongholds, enabling the insurgents to exercise continued control over large parts of the country, the US State Department said on Wednesday.

As another indication of failure to stifle Shabaab militants after 13 years of counterinsurgency warfare, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group last year carried out more than 1,000 attacks inside Somalia and in northern Kenya, the State Department noted in its Country Reports on Terrorism 2019.

The Somalia section of the annual global survey estimates that Al-Shabaab has between 7,000 and 9,000 members.

FUNDING

The group funds its actions through “illegal charcoal production and exports, taxation of local populations and businesses, and by means of remittances and other money transfers from the Somali diaspora,” the report adds.

The State Department does not offer an estimate of the size of Shabaab’s war chest.

Targeted operations carried out by Somali military units trained and equipped by the United States are said to stand as exceptions to the national army’s ineffectiveness.

But the report makes no mention of the intensified campaign of air attacks launched by the US Africa Command (Africom) against Al-Shabaab targets.

Africom carried out 63 such strikes last year, compared to 47 in 2018 and 35 in 2017.

SECURITY REFORMS

Somali officials “failed to implement vital national security reforms and pass legislation that could help enhance the government’s capacity to secure and govern effectively at all levels,” the report observes.

But it finds that the federal government “remained a willing partner to US efforts to improve the quality of policing entities throughout the country.”

The Kenyan government is also described as a “willing US partner” in investigating, prosecuting and responding to terrorist attacks.

However, the report notes that Kenyan security forces were reported to have engaged in human rights violations in their counter-terrorism operations. Alleged abuses included extra-judicial killings, disappearances and torture.

DUSITD2 ATTACK

But the Kenyan police and army are lauded for their response to the January 2019 DusitD2 Hotel attack. Their performance on that occasion was “in line with international standards for protection of human rights in response to terrorist threats and attacks,” the report says.

Kenya’s prosecution of suspected terrorists exhibits both progress and shortcomings, the US finds.

“Terrorism case trials often proceeded slowly and inefficiently,” the report states, noting that the three remaining defendants in the 2013 Westgate Mall attack were still on trial at the end of 2019.

“Significant victories” achieved last year included the reinstatement of convictions and 15-year sentences of two Iranians involved in a disrupted bomb plot in 2012.

Also last year, a Kenyan court found three of four defendants guilty of the 2015 Garissa University massacre.

By Nation.co.ke

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Trump suspends green cards, work visas until January

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US President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending the issuance of a number of employment-based visas through the end of 2020, including the H-1B which are used for highly skilled workers and common in the tech industry.

“Temporary workers are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of whom also compete against American workers. Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy,” the order reads.

“But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak, certain non-immigrant visa programs authorising such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers,” it continues.

The order also applies to H-2B visas for short-term seasonal workers, H-4 visas for spouses of H-1B visa holders, L-1 visas for executives transferring to the US from positions abroad with the same employer, as well as certain J-1 visas which are given to researchers, scholars and other specialised categories.

It will not apply to visa-holders already in the United States, or those outside the country who have already been issued valid visas.

Around 300,000 J-1 visa recipients come to the US every year, according to the American Immigration Council.

The new restrictions will prevent about 525,000 people from entering the United States between now and the end of the year, including 170,000 green-card holders who have been barred from coming to the country since April, according to a Wall Street Journal report, citing a senior Trump administration official.

The Trump administration will grant exemptions for health-care workers focusing on treating and researching Covid-19 as well as those working in the food supply chain, including seafood and food packaging, said the report.

A number of American tech industry and other business leaders have warned that the move will weaken companies’ ability to recruit top talents to the US and lead them to move more operations abroad.

“Today’s proclamation is a severe and sweeping attempt to restrict legal immigration. Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives,  IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back.

Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation,” Thomas Donohue, the CEO of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

“American businesses that rely on help from these visa programs should not be forced to close without serious consideration,” nine Republican senators wrote in a May 27 letter addressed to Trump, “guest workers are needed to boost American business.”

Meanwhile, as many as 64 percent of Americans believe immigrants primarily fill jobs Americans don’t want, according to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The Monday order is the latest effort by the Trump administration to cater for immigration hardliners and groups, a key constituency of the president’s political base that argue American workers should be prioritised, especially amid the economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new restrictions, which will take effect on June 24, expand a temporary immigration ban the Trump administration introduced in April that blocked some family members of U.S. citizens and reduced the number of high-skilled workers from immigrating to the country for the time being.

By nation.co.ke

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