Least 1,300 Kenyans are being held in foreign prisons in different countries, Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma has revealed.
According to the CS, 478 of the 1, 300 have been sentenced and are serving terms, majority of them serving life imprisonments.
Out of the 1,300, 47 are in Uganda, 79 in Tanzania and 15 in Ethiopia. About 80 of the Kenyans in foreign prisons are serving time in China and others are spread in the Far East, Malaysia, Thailand, and West Africa.
The CS noted that there is nothing unusual in such cases as long as due legal process is followed when arresting and prosecuting the offenders. She further stated that the ministry had negotiated a number of extradition treaties and urged Kenyans to be patient.
“If any Kenyan is arrested, and/or jailed before we are informed, we will and have protested because it is against international law,” she said.
“We have negotiated a number of extradition treaties, but these take time.”
According to the foreign affairs ministry, there are 2,000 foreigners being held in local prisons.
The Juba Four
In December last year, the government negotiated the release of the four Kenyan men, who had been sentenced for life imprisonment in South Sudan, sparking a public outcry.
The Juba four as they’ve popularly been referred to, namely; Antony Keya, Boniface Muriuki, Ravi Ghaghda and Anthony Wazome were arrested on May 29, 2015 by the National Security Service of the government of South Sudan and subsequently convicted in June 2016 and jailed for life for allegedly stealing 1.4 billion from President Salva Kiir’s office.
The Foreign Affairs ministry has always received a public backlash for laxity in spearheading extradition and extending help to Kenyans arrested in foreign countries and particularly the way the ministry handled the Juba Four issue and also for the failure to help Kenyan domestic workers who get mistreated and even killed in the Middle East while in pursuit of greener pastures.
In 2016 the ministry had also been put on the spot following the death of another Kenyan, Zak Muriuki, at a prison in Ethiopia.
Zak Muriuki, died in a prison in Ethiopia after he was allegedly arrested just a day after landing in the country for a job assignment and charged with “telecommunications fraud”. Zak would end up dying in the prison after 20 months in detention.