No detention centre mapping data


Kenya Immigration Detention

Kenya is a major destination country for migrants and refugees in the Horn of Africa. While many refugees settle in urban areas, the country has large refugee camps in Dadaab and Kakuma. Kenya also is a transit country for migrants intending to travel to South Africa. In recent years Kenyan authorities, citing concerns over terrorism, have carried out security operations resulting in the arrest and detention of large numbers of migrants and refugees.

Quick Facts


Immigration detainees (2015): 1,000
International migrants (2015): 1,084,400
New asylum applications (2016): 18,214

Profile Updated: March 2009

Kenya Immigration Detention Profile

Kenya is a major destination country for migrants and refugees in the Horn of Africa. While many refugees settle in urban areas, the country has large refugee camps in Dadaab and Kakuma.[1] Kenya is also a major source and transit county for migrants and asylum seekers intending to travel to South Africa. According to one “conservative” estimate, some 1,000 people are placed in immigration detention annually.[2]

The 2011 Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act regulates the country’s immigration policy. Under the Act, migrants who unlawfully enter or remain in Kenya have committed a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to USD 5,500 and/or imprisonment of up to three years. Newly arrived asylum-seekers are excluded from this provision in the Act.[3]

The Act also provides that irregular migrants can be detained in immigration holding facilities, prisons, or in general police custody depending on where they are apprehended.[4]  One issue with Kenya’s immigration-related detention practices is that migrants are often detained multiple times (“re-detention”), in part because of the non-existence of a deportation or repatriation system. Migrants detained in Kenya’s prisons face poor conditions, including assault, sexual abuse, limited legal assistance, and a poor diet. However, the government does permit local human rights groups and consular representatives to visit the prisons.[5]

In recent years, the Kenyan government has conducted a series of “anti-terror” operations that have resulted in the arrest and detention of large numbers of foreigners. These operations are partially motivated by an increase in attacks occurring within the country. During an operation in April 2014, more than 4,000 foreigners were arrested and detained, the majority of whom were refugees and asylum seekers. Amnesty International (AI) reported that during the operation, payment was demanded from detainees in order to be released. Somali refugees told AI that they faced “beatings and unlawful detention at the hands of security forces conducting house-to-house searches in predominantly Somali neighbourhoods.” Some of the detainees were taken to the Kasarani football stadium, where they were held in a form of ad hoc detention as their documents were checked.[6]

Increasing numbers of cross-border attacks by the Somalia-based Al Shabaab have spurred a number of additional new security measures in Kenya that make migrant and refugees vulnerable to arrest and detention. For instance, the government plans to construct a new road and additional border crossings and barriers along its border with Somalia.[7]

Migrant children have also been detained during security raids. The Integrated Regional Information Network estimates that during the April 2014 operation about 300 children, including babies, were separated from their parents, who had also been arrested during security operations.[8] Many children were held in overcrowded cells with men and women.[9]

As of March 2015, Kenya hosted more than 580,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Somalia, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.[10] Somalis account for more than 70 percent of refugee and asylum seekers in Kenya, and the community has faced discrimination, including government calls for them to return to Somalia despite the on-going conflict and threat of persecution in that country.[11]

Under Kenya’s Refugee Act 2006, asylum-seekers have 30 days to register after crossing into Kenya. A lack of documentation and difficulty in determining the date of crossing can sometimes lead to the arrest of asylum seekers. In addition, the Refugee Act provides refugees with a right to a fair hearing. However, due to language barriers and a lack of knowledge on the part of law enforcement officers, the rights provided for are largely ignored.[12] There have also been numerous reports of police and other officials confiscating refugee documents, leaving refugees vulnerable to detention.[13]

The Kenyan government has issued multiple directives requiring refugees to leave urban areas and move to camps. Since the issuance of a directive in December 2012, harassment of refugees by law enforcement officers in urban areas has reportedly increased dramatically. Such harassment includes arbitrary arrests and illegal detention.[14] According to the Refugee Consortium of Kenya, harassment of refugees in the form of abuse and violence has been well documented.[15]

 

[1] UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2015 UNHCR Country Operations Profile—Kenya, http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e483a16.html.

[2] Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, Behind Bars: The Detention of Migrants in and from the East & Horn of Africa, 2015, http://www.regionalmms.org/.

[3] Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, http://www.nairobi.diplo.de/contentblob/3356358/Daten/1788002/d_KenyanCitizenship_No12_of_2011.pdf.

[4] Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, http://www.nairobi.diplo.de/contentblob/3356358/Daten/1788002/d_KenyanCitizenship_No12_of_2011.pdf.

[5] Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, Behind Bars: The Detention of Migrants in and from the East & Horn of Africa, 2015, http://www.regionalmms.org/.

[6] Amnesty International, “Kenya: Somalis trapped in ‘catch-22’ amid crackdown on refugees,” 11 April 2014, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2014/04/kenya-somalis-placed-catch-amid-crackdown-refugees/.

[7] Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, “Regional Mixed Migration Summary for March 2015,” 2015, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/RMMS_Mixed_Migration_Summary_March_2015.pdf.

[8] Integrated Regional Information Network, “Kenyan Police Operation Strands 300 Children,” 20 June 2014, http://www.irinnews.org/report/100246/kenyan-police-operation-strands-300-children.

[9] Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, Behind Bars: The Detention of Migrants in and from the East & Horn of Africa, 2015, http://www.regionalmms.org/.

[10] Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, “Regional Mixed Migration Summary for March 2015,” 2015, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/RMMS_Mixed_Migration_Summary_March_2015.pdf.

[11] Human Rights Watch, “Somalia Unsafe for Refugees to Return,” 30 March 2012, https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/30/kenya-somalia-unsafe-refugees-return.

[12] Lucy Kiama and Dennis Likule, “Detention in Kenya: Risks for Refugees and Asylum Seekers,” Forced Migration Review, September 2013, http://www.fmreview.org/detention/kiama-likule.

[13] Amnesty International, “Kenya: Somalis trapped in ‘catch-22’ amid crackdown on refugees,” 11 April 2014, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2014/04/kenya-somalis-placed-catch-amid-crackdown-refugees/.

[14] Lucy Kiama and Dennis Likule, “Detention in Kenya: Risks for Refugees and Asylum Seekers,” Forced Migration Review, September 2013, http://www.fmreview.org/detention/kiama-likule.

[15] Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, Behind Bars: The Detention of Migrants in and from the East & Horn of Africa, 2015, http://www.regionalmms.org/.

Centres List

No detention centres data available

Statistics Expand all



1,000

Total number of immigration detainees by year

2015

  • Total number of immigration detainees by year
NumberObservation Date
1,0002015


53,841

Criminal prison population

2016

  • Criminal prison population
NumberObservation Date
53,8412016
53,1632013
52,0002012
49,7572010
45,2712007
52,0002004
38,7392001
33,6101998
41,0641996
28,9141992


0.6

Percentage of foreign prisoners

2013

  • Percentage of foreign prisoners
PercentageObservation Date
0.62013


114

Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)

2016

  • Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
NumberObservation Date
1142016
1212014
1212012
1212010
1192007
1492004
1212001
1131998
1441996
1151992



46,050,000

Population

2015

  • Population
NumberObservation Date
46,050,0002015
42,700,0002012


1,084,400

International migrants

2015

  • International migrants
NumberObservation Date
1,084,4002015
955,5002013


2.4

International migrants as a percentage of the population

2015

  • International migrants as a percentage of the population
PercentageObservation Date
2.42015
2.22013


451,077

Refugees

2016

  • Refugees
NumberObservation Date
451,0772016
553,9122015
551,3522014


12.29

Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants

2014

  • Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
NumberObservation Date
12.292014
12.062013
13.812012


18,214

Total number of new asylum applications

2016

  • Total number of new asylum applications
NumberObservation Date
18,2142016
21,5192014
21,5712013
21,2422012


70.9

Refugee recognition rate

2013

  • Refugee recognition rate
NumberObservation Date
70.92013


20,000

Stateless persons

2016

  • Stateless persons
NumberObservation Date
20,0002016
20,0002015

Domestic Law Expand all

Legal tradition Show sources
NameObservation Date
Customary law2017
Common law2017
Muslim law2017

Core pieces of national legislation
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act 2011

Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations? Show sources
FinesIncarcerationObservation Date
YesYes2015
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration Show sources
Grounds for IncarcerationMaximum Number of Days of IncarcerationObservation Date
Unlawful presence outside designated refugee camp02015
Unauthorized entry10952015
Unauthorised stay10952015

Provision of basic procedural standards Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Right to legal counselYes2016
Right to appeal the lawfulness of detentionYes2016

Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice? Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Asylum seekersYes2014
Accompanied minorsYes2014
Unaccompanied minorsYes2014

International Law Expand all

Regional legal instruments Show sources
NameYear of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
ACHPR, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights1992
ACRWC, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child2000
APRW, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol)2010

Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review Show sources
Recomendation IssuedYear IssuedObservation Date
No20102017
No20152017

Institutions Expand all

Custodial authority
AgencyMinistryMinistry TypologyObservation Date
Kenyan Government2008
Kenya Police2007
Department of Immigration2007
Kenya Police2007
Detention Facility Management Show sources
Entity NameEntity TypeObservation Date
UN High Commissioner for RefugeesInternational or Regional Organization2008
Kenyan GovernmentGovernmental2008
Kenya PoliceGovernmental2007
Department of ImmigrationGovernmental2007
Formally designated detention estate? Show sources
Formally designated immigration detention estate?Types of officially designated detention centresObservation Date
YesDedicated immigration detention facilities2015
YesPolice stations2015
YesCriminal prisons2015
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Immigration detention centre (Administrative)Immigration field office (Administrative)Transit centre (Administrative)Reception centre (Administrative)Offshore detention centre (Administrative)Hospital (Administrative)Border guard (Administrative)Police station (Criminal)National penitentiary (Criminal)Local prison (Criminal)Juvenile detention centre (Criminal)Informal camp (Ad hoc)Immigration detention centre (Ad hoc)Surge facility (Ad hoc)Observation Date
2015

Do NGOs carry out visits? Show sources
Do NGOs regularly carry our visits?Observation Date
Yes2016

Socio Economic Data Expand all

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD) Show sources
Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)Observation Date
1,3582014
9942013
Remittances to the country Show sources
Remittances to the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
1,4802014
2,4672011
Remittances from the country Show sources
Remittances from the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
582010
Unemployment Rate Show sources
Unemployment RateObservation Date
9.22014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD) Show sources
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in USD)Observation Date
2,665.12014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP) Show sources
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)UNDP four-tiered rankingObservation Date
145Low2015
147Low2014

Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration Show sources
% who agree with the statement “We should restrict and control entry of people into our country more than we do now.”Observation Date
832007

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