Kenya’s citizenship laws revisited

Published: 12/Sep/2012
Source: Journal of Immigration Asylum and Nationality Law

Ramnik Shah, “Kenya’s citizenship laws revisited”, Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law, Vol.26, No.3,  2012, pp.269-277.


In ‘Britain and Kenya’s citizenship law: a conflict of laws’ ((1992) Vol 6, No 4 IANL ) I questioned the legality of a 1985 amendment to Kenya’s citizenship laws on account of its retroactive nature. As far as is known, it was never challenged or litigated in the courts and so passed into the general scheme of those laws, which otherwise remained rooted in the complex arrangements for the country’s independence from Britain in 1963. In 2010, after a prolonged process of consultation and soul-searching, Kenya adopted a new constitution, which radically and comprehensively overhauled not only the country’s fundamental structures of governance but also established a detailed framework of the status, rights and duties of its citizens. It is undoubtedly an imaginative document, full of promise and potential, steeped in idealism and aspiration, most notably in the socio-economic and cultural spheres, with the overriding ambition of forging a new relationship between government and people on a democratic premise. The purpose of this article however, is to critically examine certain aspects of the new citizenship regime, with a focus on dual nationality, and point to some of its flaws and anomalies. The new constitution was promulgated to come into effect on 27 August 2010 (‘the effective date’).1 While it contains an elaborate set of provisions as to citizenship in terms both of principle and parameters, the detail of their application and implementation is to be found in (a) The Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act 2011 (‘KCIA 2011’) which coincidentally was passed exactly a year later, on 27 August 2011, and came into operation on 30 August 2011, and (b) The Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Regulations 2012 (‘KCIR 2012’) published on 15 June 2012 by Legal Notice No 64.

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Themes: Acquisition of nationality, Acquisition by children, Dual Nationality, Naturalisation and Marriage
Regions: East Africa, Kenya
Year: 2012