Kenya: Statelessness: Pemba Community’s Fight for Citizenship and Identity

Published: 24/Fév/2023
Source: The Elephant (Nairobi)

The recent recognition of the Pemba as one Kenya’s ethnic groups must not remain a dead letter. The government must ensure that they are issued with identification documents that will enable them to enjoy their rights as Kenyan citizens.

By Fred Nasubo

On 30 January 2023, President William Ruto, through a special issue of the Kenya Gazette, recognised the Pemba community as one of Kenya’s ethnic communities. The long-awaited recognition was received joyously by the Pemba who are said to have arrived on the Kenyan coast in the 1930s. Their recognition as Kenyan nationals under the law puts an end to the community’s statelessness. Now the government must ensure that they are issued with national identity documents and registered as citizens.

Registration of stateless persons in Kenya follows a three-step process. The first is the application by an individual for naturalisation at the immigration office. If it is approved, the immigration office will issue the applicant with a certificate of nationality. A national ID card is then issued to anyone with this certificate without questions. Stateless persons born in Kenya can also use the certificate of nationality to obtain a birth certificate.

While the proclamation is a big step towards ending the marginalised Pemba community’s long struggle for Kenyan nationality and citizenship, their woes will persist if they do not receive identity documents. In Kenya, the identity card is the gate-pass to citizens’ rights and benefits. Therefore, granting nationality to the Pemba without immediately issuing them with national IDs continues to expose them to the discrimination they have faced as a stateless community.

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Themes: Apatridie, Cartes d’identité et passeports, Naturalisation et le mariage
Regions: Kenya
Year: 2023