Thirty five Ethiopians have been returned to their country after completing their one month jail sentence at the Wajir prison, where they were being held after being found in Kenya illegally.
Speaking to the Nation Thursday, Wajir County Prisons Commander Ali Madey Hassan, who oversaw the release, said that the refugees were immediately sent back to Ethiopia unlike in the past when they would spend three to four months at the Wajir Police Station due to logistical challenges.
Mr Hassan said that after consultations with the top county security officials, they facilitated the return of the Ethiopians to their country.
UNABLE TO PAY FINE
The foreigners had been given the option of paying a fine of Sh50,000 each which most were unable to pay and had to complete the sentence.
The prisoners included 26 men and nine women and were transported back to Ethiopia using a police lorry.
Immigration officials were also involved in the return of the Ethiopian nationals.
The prison boss said that the next lot of about 70 prisoners who are currently serving a four-month jail sentence are expected to be repatriated back to their country by the end of September.
He added that the decision to immediately repatriate the prisoners was informed by the need to reduce the use of taxpayers’ money in accommodating them after the completion of their jail terms.
“As we continue to come with new strategies, in future we decided to come together as government officials to facilitate their transport in order to ease the burden on taxpayers,” he said.
A visit to the prison by a team from the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHCR) early this month revealed several challenges the Ethiopians face including language barrier, congestion in the cells and lack of standard cell to accommodate the female prisoners.
KNHCR called on the government to devise new ways of dealing with the refugees other than jailing them.