Citizenship rights – Kenya

ACmHPR Communication 317/06 Nubian Community in Kenya / Kenya

Kenyan Nubians entered Kenya as part of the colonial British King’s African Rifles (KAR) in the late 19th century. The British colonial authorities allocated land, including the settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, explicitly to Kenyan Nubians. But they did not grant them colony citizenship as they did to the railway workers from the Asian sub-continent, the Arab subjects of the then Zanzibari Sultanate or the British settlers. At independence, the citizenship status of the Nubians was not directly addressed. Successive Kenyan governments have also not taken any concrete steps to address the plight of the Nubian community.

After over than a century of residence in Kenya, the Kenyan government does not recognise Nubians as Kenyan citizens even though they constitute de jure citizens as defined by Kenyan law. More so, British, Asian and Arab settlers are formally recognised as Kenyan tribes. Most Nubians therefore live as de facto stateless persons without adequate protection from the state and without fully enjoying their rights under national and international law as a result of systematic discrimination by the Kenyan government. The High Court of Kenya has been considering interlocutory matters of a case filed by the community on this discrimination for 6 years. The case is now before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

IHRDA in partnership with Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) and Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE) filed the communication before the ACmHPR in 2006.

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