A lobby for Kenyans in the diaspora says the government’s maltreatment of Miguna Miguna could turn him into a martyr.
The Kenya Diaspora Alliance has criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration for mistreating Dr Miguna after a red alert against him was issued, barring his entry into Kenya.
Dr Miguna, a lawyer and critic of the government, was deported from Kenya in March 2018 on claims he had not regularised his Kenyan citizenship. He insists he is a dual national, and a Kenyan by birth.
Last week, as he connected his flight from Canada to Nairobi through Germany, airline authorities removed him from the aircraft after a red alert was issued on him.
The KDA said it was concerned with the “unnecessary stand-off and human rights violations” of Dr Miguna, and asked the government to clarify who exactly issued the red alert and why.
“We are alive to the IATA regulations on ‘unruly passengers’ that came into effect on January 1, 2020,” the lobby said, referring to regulations issued by the International Air Transport Association, the body of commercial airlines across the globe.
“It would be good to establish the truth of who issued the red alert, for what reason and to what end. Was it IATA or the State (GoK)? If the latter, why are we creating a mountain out of an anthill, and making Miguna Miguna an undeserving martyr?” Dr Shem Ochuodho, the global chairperson of KDA said.
In June 2014, IATA adopted regulations to deal with unruly passengers following a spike in incidents involving bad behaviour from passengers.
Such rules may include airline bans, jail sentences or fines.
Implementing the regulations required governments to ratify the 2014 amendments to the Montreal Protocol (amendments formally known as the protocol to amend the convention on offences and certain Acts Committed on Board Aircraft) which could give it “necessary legal tools to be able to prosecute the small minority of passengers that become unruly.”
Kenya ratified the amendments last year.
Despite government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna saying Miguna had been unruly, there has been no indication he was as no airline claimed so on his aborted trip to Nairobi. In fact, the regulations could not be applied retroactively.
Col (Rtd) Oguna could also not reveal who had issued the red alert as the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority denied doing so.
The government now argues that Dr Miguna has to apply for a passport replacement if he wants to travel back as a Kenyan, or get a visa if he is to use a Canadian passport.
The KDA said maltreatment of Dr Miguna could discourage the diaspora from investing back home as they would fear suffering a similar fate.
“All this at a time when Kenya/Africa badly needs all the foreign and diaspora investments and goodwill it can amass to turn round fortunes of the economy. The economy is bleeding. We can well do without such distractions, negative energy and bad publicity.”
“KDA calls upon the Government of Kenya (GoK) to facilitate and do what it takes within the provision of the law to bring back home and admit Miguna Miguna, his mannerisms and acerbic tongue not-withstanding.”
Dr Miguna has had run-ins with the Kenya government ever since he swore in then opposition leader Raila Odinga as the ‘people’s president’ in March 2018.
Mr Odinga has since had a ‘handshake’ with his erstwhile political opponent Mr Kenyatta, and they are now pushing for constitutional amendments through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Dr Miguna has turned a critic of both.
In November 2018, High Court Judge Enoch Chacha Mwita awarded Dr Miguna Sh7 million for unlawful deportation and suspended a directive by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to cancel his passport.
The judge also lifted the ban on Dr Miguna as a prohibited immigrant.
None of the orders have been obeyed by the government, Dr Miguna claims.