, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 23 – The government has defended the unilateral extradition of Kenyans to face charges in Uganda over the July 11 Kampala bombings, saying a pact exists under the East African Community for such renditions.
Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua said on Thursday that under the agreement, people who commit a crime in any of the EAC-member countries will be handed over to the affected country for questioning and further legal action.
On Wednesday, several Muslim leaders accused the government of contravening the law in the recent extraditions.
“Be it terrorism… be it any small crime or just breaking any law in Kenya you will be taken to that particular country where stern action will be taken against you,” said Dr Mutua at a press briefing.
The government spokesman said the measure was meant to reduce incidents where criminals take advantage of the common market protocol to take part in illegal activities in one country or another.
“We do not want people to start stealing cars in Kenya to go sell them in Uganda or Tanzania because of the freedom of movement. You will be returned here so that you can be charged,” he said.
Civil society groups and the government human rights watchdog had accused the government of allowing Uganda to illegally detain Kenyans, following the Kampala bombings. There are 13 Kenyans, including human rights activist Al-Amin Kimathi, who are being held in Kampala following the attacks.
A lawyer who spoke to Capital News on Wednesday explained that the manner in which they were nabbed and charged disregarded the Extradition (Contiguous and Foreign Countries) Act.
Hassan Lakicha had argued that the Ugandan government should have issued a warrant of arrest and communicated its intention to Kenya.
“This should have been done through the Ugandan High Commission which would then inform the Attorney General who would take the matter to the Magistrates’ Courts. It would be up to the Magistrate’s Court to determine whether or not Kenya would accept or decline the request by Uganda,” he explained.
He added that the Kenyan court would then determine whether the said Kenyans would stand a fair trial in Uganda and whether the crimes preferred against them were in accordance with the Extradition Act.
“There are 22 crimes that fall in this category including: murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, bigamy, assault rape, offenses committed at the sea, counterfeit, fraud, arson, and others so in this case, Uganda must disclose the offences that the Kenyans are accused of before Kenya takes any action,” he said.
Mr Lakicha also explained that it would take 15 days for Kenya to determine what action to take: “When Kenya gets a copy of the warrant of arrest, it will hold the suspected Kenyans for 15 days pending further investigation. However this period can go past the 15-day deadline.”
A commissioner with the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission Hassan Omar also asked Kenyan authorities to exert pressure on the Ugandan government and ensure the Kenyans’ release.
“Our government cannot take a stand when it comes to violations of Kenyans’ rights outside the borders. Every time a Kenyan’s rights are abused, the government says it will write a letter to the respective government. For how long shall we write letters? The government simply needs to start acting,” he said.