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05 May 2020 – Kenya

Aerial View of the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, (Thomas Mukoya, Reuters,
Aerial View of the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, (Thomas Mukoya, Reuters, "Two Refugees Explain What Covid-19 Means in Their Precarious World," World Economic Forum, 10 April 2020,

Irregular migrants in Kenya are detained in immigration holding facilities, but also in prisons or in general police custody. The conditions in Kenya’s prisons are worrying, as migrants may face assault and sexual abuse, with limited legal assistance. The National Council for the Administration of Justice announced on 2 April the release of 4,000 prisoners convicted of minor offenses.

Human rights groups have expressed alarm over the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, pointing to a surge in police violence and exceedingly strict containment measures. On 29 April, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights accused Kenyan authorities of using quarantine as punishment. The commission said that ‘’the rounding up of citizens by security agents for breaking the curfew rules is likely to exacerbate the pandemic.’’

Since 27 March 2020, a countrywide curfew was put in place to combat Covid-19 outbreaks. Individuals are not allowed to leave their homes from 7pm to 5am and any transgression of this measure may result in imprisonment. It is also mandatory to wear a face mask in public and the non-respect of this rule may lead to a fine up to 20,000 KES and imprisonment for up to six months. In Kakuma refugee camp, which hosts more than 194,000 refugees and asylum seekers, the curfew also applies. Kenyan authorities announced on 26 April a 21 days extension of the curfew.

The Kenyan Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) distributed soaps along with devices to wash hands in prisons. Along with these sanitary measures, visits in prisons are suspended until 11 May. The Nairobi prison has been under full lockdown since 28 March, a decision which was met with protests from prison staff.