Somalia: Kenya Court Quashes Government Order To Close Dadaab
Kenya’s high court has said it would be unconstitutional to close the world’s biggest refugee camp, which houses more than 200,000 people who have fled war in neighbouring Somalia. In a ruling on Thursday, the court said a government order to shut the camp, which would have sent the refugees back to Somalia from the sprawling Dadaab camp, was illegal. Judge John Mativo, who issued the ruling, said Kenya’s internal security minister had abused his power by ordering the closure of the camp, which borders Somalia, in May last year.
According to Mativo, the order had been given without consulting the people who would be directly affected by its implications, which was a violation of Kenya’s constitutional right to fair legal proceedings. “Hence, the said decision is null and void,” he ruled. Mativo also said that the order was discriminatory in nature and went against international treaties that protect refugees from being forced to return to persecution, adding that the Kenyan government had failed to prove Somalia was safe enough for the refugees.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director Michelle Kagari, said a durable solution should be explored for Somali refugees. “This would include for example, exploring options for Somalis to be integrated into local communities, it would also include exploring options to increase resettlement opportunities for Somali refugees,” she said. The ruling also blocked a government decision to disband the Department for Refugee Affairs.