Shelter Afrique boss lacks immunity, can be arrested

July 17, 2012 2:53 pm
Alassane Ba has been accused of allegedly assaulting a member of staff at Shelter Afrique

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 17 – The Foreign Affairs Ministry says Shelter Afrique boss Alassane Ba does not enjoy diplomatic immunity amid revelations that several other complaints of assault have previously been lodged against him.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka told Capital FM News that the Mauritanian executive is classified as an international civil servant and is bound by the laws of the Kenya.

Onyonka said that the ministry had in the past summoned the Shelter Afrique CEO after complaints were raised regarding the manner in which he treated Kenyan staff in the organisation.

“We classify his job as that of an international civil servant; he does not enjoy absolute immunity. If the gentleman has committed a crime and there is recommendation that he is arrested then we will take action without violating his rights. If there is a recommendation that he is deported we will implement it,” said Onyonka.

Ba is accused of assaulting a female member of staff – Karen Njeri Kandie – at the organisation’s headquarters in Upper Hill, on June 28.

“We have received complaints that the has been extremely harsh to Kenyans working in the organisation; that he doesn’t follow the laid down procedure when it came to employing Kenyans (as nationals of the host country) and that he was bringing in workers from West Africa to do menial jobs but we sorted out the issue,” added the assistant minister.

A letter seen by Capital FM News from Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi to Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said that Ba was not classified as a diplomat.

According to the PS, the agreement signed by Shelter Afrique in 1983 did not grant officials of the organisation absolute immunity.

“The government signed a host country agreement with Shelter Afrique on October 19, 1983. Article 31 of the agreement provides that ‘without prejudice to the privileges and immunities granted, the officials of Shelter Afrique are required to respect the laws and regulations of Kenya.’ it is therefore clearly implied that the immunities enjoyed under the host country agreement are not absolute and are indeed subject to the laws of the host country,” the letter copied to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko points out.

The letter to Iteere dated July 11 has advised him to take action on the complaint after investigations into the alleged assault are complete.

“Should investigations reveal that the individual is in violation of the Penal Code, then the law should be allowed to take its course bearing in mind that the victim is entitled to equal protection before the law,” reads the letter.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the official must be stripped of his immunity so he can face the law over the alleged assault of a Kenyan lady or be made to leave the country.

“It is unacceptable when we read in the media that a foreigner has assaulted a Kenyan woman and that he cannot face the law because he enjoys diplomatic immunity; if the immunity cannot be stripped by Shelter Afrique then he should be declared persona non grata and leave,” he said.

Shelter Afrique was established in 1982 by African governments, the African Development Bank, Africa-Reinsurance and CDC, with the mandate of mobilising resources for housing development in Africa.


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