NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 4 – The families of five Kenyan men detained in South Sudan on suspicion of fraud have accused the Kenyan Government of turning a blind eye to what they say is the inhumane treatment of their kin.
The families say that contrary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ assertions, they have not been accorded legal assistance by the Kenyan consular in South Sudan or access to their loved ones.
Speaking for the families, activist Wanjeri Nderu told Capital FM News that the Kenyans had been detained at a military facility for 66 days as of Tuesday without trial. Their universal right to an expeditious hearing, she said, therefore having been violated.
“They were released after 40 days in detention only to be re-arrested. They have not been allowed a change of clothes and have been surviving on a meal a day. If you look at their before and after photos you’ll be shocked.”
While the families say they have been denied access to the detainees, they appear to be in communication given the exchange of images.
According to Nderu the five men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in banking fraud which their employer, a South Sudanese government official, stands accused of.
She is however adamant that the Kenyans were only involved in the selling of electronics owned by the aforementioned South Sudanese government official.
“These are form four leavers. They don’t possess the knowhow to commit banking fraud,” she defended.
Whatever the charges, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho told Capital FM News that the Kenyans are under South Sudan’s jurisdiction and Kenya cannot impose its legal provisions on the rights of defendants on the country.
He was however insistent that the Kenyan consular in South Sudan had provided the detainees’ legal assistance and other “consular services” required of it.
Given the conflicting accounts, a meeting was scheduled to take place between the families and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials on Tuesday afternoon.
Nderu was however cautious to describe it as a turning point. “They asked us why we took our grievances to the media but we’ve held meetings with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials before and nothing has come of it.”