Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!

Fahamu Bulletin Archive

About our Programmes

Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

See the list of episodes.


This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Advocacy & campaigns

Concern over the transfer of refugee journalists to designated areas

2014-05-14, Issue 678

Bookmark and Share

Printer friendly version

At least 20 journalists have been arrested in recent months in the crackdown on refugees by the Kenyan government in its efforts to improve security.

May 12, 2013

Mr. Joseph Ole Lenku
Cabinet Secretary of Interior and Coordination of National Government
Harambee House
P.0. Box 30510-00100

SUBJECT: Concern over the transfer of refugee journalists to designated areas

Dear Secretary Lenku,

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and the Rory Peck Trust—three international organizations dedicated to defending freedom of information and journalists worldwide—are writing to express concern over the Kenyan government’s recent decision to transfer all urban refugees to designated areas. While we can understand the government’s pressing need to ensure security in Kenya, this measure endangers refugee journalists who sought refuge in your country.

Research conducted by our organizations indicates that refugee journalists, whose work makes them highly visible at home and recognizable in their respective communities in exile, make up a particularly vulnerable population. Transferring them to designated areas that are known to be penetrated by Somali insurgents and Ethiopian intelligence agents, puts them at risk of continued threats and persecution for their work.

As you know, in December 2012, Kenya’s Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA) issued a directive ordering all refugees to be relocated to designated areas. After Kenya’s High Court declared the directive unconstitutional in 2013, the DRA appealed the decision. The official status of urban refugees remains ambiguous.

In light of growing insecurity in Nairobi, on March 25, 2014 your office issued a nearly identical directive to the one from December 2012 ordering all refugees to be relocated to designated areas. Given the High Court’s decision to repeal the DRA directive, it remains unclear whether your newest decree is constitutionally viable.

According to recent inquiries by RSF and CPJ, at least 16 Somali and Ethiopian journalists were arrested in Nairobi during the month of April. Another five suffered the same fate in March. Some journalists told us they were arrested in their homes and forced to pay bribes to police officers to secure their release and avoid transfer to refugee camps. This, however, was not the case for several others, including two prominent Somali journalists, who remain in dire circumstances.

Hassan Sheikh Omar is an experienced Somali journalist who until 2008 worked for Radio Simba and Horn Cable TV when threats from the Somali Islamic militia Al-Shabaab forced him to flee. Arrested on April 25, 2014, he was held for three days in Kasarani Stadium and then transferred to Kakuma where he remains to this day.

Mahad Omar Diriye, an independent Somali journalist who serves as secretary-general of the Jubaland Independent Journalists Association (JIJA), was arrested on April 28, 2014. He is being held in Nairobi pending transfer to Kakuma. Originally from the Gedo province in southern Somalia, Mahad worked for various media outlets, including the HornAfrik and Allgedo news websites. In 2007, he sought refuge in Kismayo, Jubaland’s commercial capital, after being threatened in retaliation for his work. The journalist was forced to flee his home country in 2010 after receiving threats from Al-Shabaab in connection to his reporting for Radio Mandeeq and Radio Luuliyo.

According to information obtained by our organizations, Hassan and Mahad are registered as refugees with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). They also hold Kenyan identity documents issued in Nairobi recognizing their refugee status in Kenya.

RSF, CPJ and the Rory Peck Trust respectfully call on the Kenyan government to clarify the legal status of the most recent decree to relocate urban refugees to designated areas. Given the particularly vulnerable situation for refugee journalists, we also urge your office to exempt them from this operation and allow them to remain in Kenya’s urban centres.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have queries or concerns. We thank you in advance for taking our appeal into serious consideration.


Christophe Deloire,
Secretary General, Reporters Without Borders

Robert Mahoney,
Deputy Director, Committee to Project Journalists

Tina Carr,
Director, Rory Peck Trust

Cc David Kimaiyo Inspector General of Police

Readers' Comments

Let your voice be heard. Comment on this article.

↑ back to top

ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition

ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français

ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português

© 2009 Fahamu -