Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. FILE PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP
“What is Your Ministry Doing to Assist Kenyans Jailed Abroad?…” Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed Answers Questions on Diaspora Issues
In a series where Nation.co.ke invites readers to send questions to public figures, this week’s questions are directed to and answered by Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Below are questions/answers on issues affecting the Kenyan Diaspora:
What plans has the Diaspora Desk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put in place for the registration of Kenyans living abroad to allow them to vote in August as per the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission schedules? – Dr Shem Ochuodho, Global Chairperson, Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA) Juba
The registration of persons for elections is the sole responsibility of IEBC. The ministry stands ready to offer any support to the electoral commission in the execution of this constitutional mandate.
Waziri, families of Kenyans languishing in jail in South Sudan have accused your ministry of offering very little assistance. They even wonder how you are confident campaigning to chair the AU yet you have failed to rescue your own citizens facing challenges abroad. What is your take on this? – Komen Moris, Eldoret
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides consular service to Kenyan citizens abroad with a view to ensuring fair, expedited hearings. Through intervention of the ministry, in 2016 alone 150 Kenyans were released from foreign jails. It is also worth noting that there are over 200 foreigners in our local jails. In the case of South Sudan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been seized of the case and the mission has provided and continues to provide consular services to date.
When a US citizen visits other countries and gets into trouble, their government rushes to assist immediately. Why is the Kenyan government always reluctant to assist those who land in problems while abroad? – Newton Kinity
It is not true that the Kenyan government does not go to the aid of its citizens. Indeed, our missions abroad render consular service on a daily basis to Kenyans. One active region is the Middle East where thousands of Kenyans are employed. A few that get into trouble are assisted. Some issues that are criminal in nature are subjected to the laws of that country. Where there is need for evacuation, Kenya has always moved to assist.
What arrangements does the ministry have to offer legal aid and diplomatic protection to Kenyans abroad whose rights are violated, especially in Middle East, Asia? – Dr Shem Ochuodho
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides consular service to Kenyan Diaspora and ensures they get legal representation according to the laws of the host country. Currently the ministry is working on Bilateral Labour agreements to protect workers in countries that have high concentration of Kenyan immigrant labour. Already the ministry has signed one such agreement with Qatar. Saudi Arabia and others are in progress.
Why has the government ignored the cry of Kenyan students abroad? The last time we got a reply from you was that the government is aware of the plight of her students studying in Ukraine, Russia and Cuba, and you promised to make sure that the stipend is reinstated as soon as possible (Daily Nation Sept, 28 2015). – Steve Muli, Russia
I am liaising with the Ministry of Education on this matter. I am also aware discussions with the Higher Education Loans Board to extend loans to Kenyan students studying abroad and have no full scholarships, are at an advanced stage.
What is the fate of Kenyans jailed abroad and what is the government doing to ensure that they get a fair trial and a safe passage back home? – Paul Gesimba, Nairobi
As alluded earlier, the role of the ministry is to provide consular service to Kenyans facing challenges while abroad. Where a matter is criminal in nature, the ministry can but push to expedite a fair hearing. Conviction and sentencing will depend on the merit of the case and the laws of the country in which the crime was committed. It is not out of the ordinary to be jailed in a foreign land. Kenyan jails have hundreds of foreigners who are serving terms after which they are repatriated. The same applies for Kenyans incarcerated abroad.