Citizenship Discrimination and the Right to Nationality in Kenya

Published: 1/Oct/2009
Source: Open Society Justice Initiative

Statement Submitted by the Open Society Justice Initiative for Consideration by the United Nations Human Rights Council at its Eighth Session, on the occasion of its Universal Periodic Review of Kenya May 3 – 14, 2010

1. The Open Society Justice Initiative is an operational program of the Open Society Institute (OSI) that pursues law reform activities grounded in the protection of human rights and contributes to the development of legal capacity for open societies throughout the world. A major area of the Justice Initiative’s work is the enforcement of international legal prohibitions on discrimination, statelessness and  arbitrary deprivation of nationality.

2. A large but undocumented number of members of ethnic minority groups in Kenya are stateless. Groups such as the Kenyan Nubians, the Coastal Arabs and Kenyan Somalis all struggle with statelessness and discriminatory citizenship laws and practices. As a result, a large percentage of the population is unable to participate fully in the economic, social and political life of the country. Kenya’s laws in this area remain profoundly discriminatory and ineffective in addressing issues of statelessness and citizen ship discrimination. Specifically, the
Constitution of the Republic of Kenya is discriminatory on the basis of gender (Articles 90 and 91) in contravention of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; Kenya’s nationality legislation does not provide effective protections against statelessness; stateless children born on the territory are not guaranteed citizenship despite Kenya’s international obligation to do so under Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and, certain ethnic minorities have to go through a discriminatory vetting process to obtain identity cards and passports.



Themes: Acquisition by children, Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious, ID Documents and Passports, Statelessness
Regions: Kenya
Year: 2009