Migration and Human Rights.

Migration is an essential process to development of any country as people move in search of better lives such as education, jobs, medical assistance, better living standard, safety among other factors. Kenya as a state has experienced the impact of migration both positive and negative. There is evidence in the literature review of a number of government and other stakeholders’ reports that designate Kenya as a source, transit and destination for different migration processes including trafficking in persons. Migration then being a tool for development requires a multi- sectoral approach in its governance in order to maximise its positive impacts and reduce the negatives.


There has been a number of International, Regional instruments and National laws that speak to migration governance such as the Constitution of Kenya, Citizenship and Immigration Act (2012), Counter Trafficking in Persons Act (2010), Children’s Act, (2001) Prevention of Terrorism Act, Sexual offences Act (2006), Penal Code among others.


The Kenya National Commission of Human Rights (KNCHR) is working closely GIZ through the Better Migration Management (BMM) programme with the aim of  embedding the human rights based approach in migration governance specifically safeguard the protection of  migrant rights. Under the above partnership, KNCHR seeks to realize the protection pillar under BMM component 3 that is, R 3.6: “National Human Rights institutions and other relevant bodies to promote migrant rights.” The intervention are aimed at promoting and inculcating a culture of respect for human rights in migration management through efforts targeting all stakeholders (both state and non-state actors).


The National Commission is a member of the Kenya’s National Coordination Mechanism (NCM) on migration housed by the department of Immigration which is currently developing migration policy for Kenya as well as a curriculum for the proposed Kenya Institute of migration studies. In addition, the KNCHR serves a member of the National Advisory Committee on Counter Trafficking in Persons (CTiP); which coordinates implementation of the CTiP Act, 2010.

The National Commission interventions includes; receiving complaints of human rights violations of migrants, conducting investigations, seeking appropriate redress, reviewing of laws, policies,  public awareness creation public and duty bearers capacity building is founded on principles of human rights. The Commission aims to ensure management and governance of migration in Kenya adopts a human rights-based approach (HRBA). This means consideration of human rights principles in planning, policy development, design and establishment of administrative processes of migration governance to promote and protect human rights. The approach encourages a multi-sectoral and a comprehensive approach to migration governance hence sustainability of migration laws and policies which safeguards human rights, good governance and encourages positive development.

The commission uses different strategies both formal and non-formal in ensuring Redress for migrant rights violations. The commission recently won a case Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) & 2 others v Republic of Kenya &10 others [2015] Eklr where the Commission was a second Petitioner. The Decision of the court reaffirmed the State obligation to honor human right norms with regard to the principle of non refoulment. In yet another case the Commission filed a petition in the High court seeking Judicial intervention in addressing the Government’s directive on closure of Daadab Refugee camp since it had potential of having adverse effects on realization of human rights of the refugees due to the breach of the principle of non refoulement (non-return) as outlined in various International and national laws safeguarding the refugee rights.