Tanzanian politician Godbless Lema at Kajiado Police Station on November 9, 2020, where he was held after fleeing from Tanzania over fears for his life.
Amnesty asks Kenya to protect Tanzania’s Godbless Lema
- The rights watchdog said Nairobi has a legal obligation to host anyone fleeing danger from their countries and that Mr Lema’s situation means he would be at risk if forcibly returned to his country.
- Kenya is a signatory to various international protocols on refugees and asylum seekers, which forbid deportation of those fleeing danger back home.
Rights lobby Amnesty International Monday appealed to the Kenya government not to deport Tanzania’s ex-legislator Godbless Lema, to save him from “persecution.”
The rights watchdog said Nairobi has a legal obligation to host anyone fleeing danger from their countries and that Mr Lema’s situation means he would be at risk if forcibly returned to his country.
“Kenya must not violate the internationally recognised principle of non-refoulement,” Irungu Houghton, the Amnesty International Kenya Director, said Monday.
“The international principle is upheld by own national laws. It prohibits Kenya from turning away people at the border or returning them to a country where they would be at risk of persecution or danger.”
Mr Lema, a former MP for Arusha Urban Constituency in Tanzania, was arrested in Kajiado County on Sunday after crossing into Kenya. He lost his seat on a Chadema ticket in the recently concluded General Election.
His lawyer George Wajackoyah said on Sunday the politician will seek asylum in Kenya.
“I have handed him over to the Kenyan police for processing. He is ready to die in a Kenyan jail than by the Tanzanian police who are still pursuing him as we speak, Wajackoyah said in an interview with the Nation, even as he expressed fears of a possible deportation of the politician
Kenya police say Mr Lema entered the country illegally, which meant he could be deported. The ex-lawmaker, however, told reporters Monday his life had been threatened by unknown government operatives there.
“I could not ignore the threats. I realised that unknown people were trailing me. That is why I decided to leave my country,” he said. His family had already arrived in Nairobi and was applying for asylum, he said.
Kenya is a signatory to various international protocols on refugees and asylum seekers, which forbid deportation of those fleeing danger back home.
Sometimes asylum seekers, owing to the nature of danger, may arrive in the country illegally, but government officials often insist on registration and application for their status as refugees or asylum seekers.