The Amnesty International is now warning the Kenyan government against returning Tanzanian opposition politician Godbless Lema and his family to their home country.
Amnesty says that Lema and his family are seeking asylum in Kenya and as such, the government must allow him in the country, whether their entry was by legal or illegal means.
“Kenya must not violate the internationally recognised principal of non-refoulment. The international principal is upheld by our own national laws. It prohibits Kenya from turning away people at the border or returning them to a country where they would be at risk or danger,” says Amnesty International.
Kenya is a state party to the 1951 Convention relating to the status of Refugees and the 1960 O.A.U Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa.
This, Amnesty says, means that Kenya is obligated to protect and provide sanctuary to Lema and his family, as transferring them back to Tanzania would be a human rights violations.
The immediate former Arusha Urban Constituency his wife Neema Godbless and their three children were on Sunday, November 8 arrested while trying to flee their country.
They were arrested at Ilbisil in Kajiado County after they had tricked the immigration officials.
According to the Standard Lema and his family boarded a taxi from his home to Namanga border. Immigration officers refused to stamp their documents unless Mr. Lema shows up.
Mr. Lema then told the officers that because he was just crossing to Kenya to search for an international school for their children, he did not carry his passport. They then allowed his family but blocked him.
He requested that he be allowed to go change money into Kenyan currency, but upon reaching the Kenyan side, he and his family entered his lawyers, George Luchiri Wajackoyah, car and fled.
The officials at the border then alerted their Kenyan counterpart who then alerted the police. They were pursued to Ilbisil where they were arrested.
“Nimepigiwa simu na mheshimiwa Godbless maanake mimi ni wakili wa chama cha Chadema, wakili wake, wakili wa Mbowe na wakili wa Tundu Lissu. Alinipigia simu akaniambia Prof, njoo Namanga nataka kukuona. Nimemkuta na mama na watoto watatu. Ameniambia anakambia Tanzania kutokana na hali ya siasa ilivyo. Kwamba amechoka kushikwa na heri auwawe akiwa Kenya kuliko akiwa Tanzania,” Wajackoyah told VOA Swahili.
Wajackoya says that he wanted to hand Lema and his family over to the United Nations Human Rights Commission as he is seeking asylum.
Tanzania’s opposition presidential candidate in the just-concluded contentious election, Tundu Lissu, is currently holed up at the German embassy in Dar es Salaam.
Lissu, who was vying on a Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) ticket, has been seeking refuge at the German ambassador’s residence since Monday, November 2 after claiming that his life is in danger.
Negotiations are underway to have him flown to Belgium where he wants to seek asylum for his safety.
The latest development in Tanzania is in stark contrast to what President John Pombe Magufuli promised when he was being sworn in.
Magufuli said that he will work with everyone, whether his voters or opposition loyals, in what was presumed to be the tough president extending an olive branch to his rivals.