Human rights activist Maina Kiai briefly stopped at JKIA over clearance to travel

Human rights activist Maina Kiai was Sunday morning involved in a brief drama with immigration officials at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after they refused to clear him to travel.

It took the intervention of director of immigration services Maj-Gen Gordon Kihalangwa to have Kiai cleared to proceed with his trip to Amsterdam.


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Kihalangwa said Kiai was not on their watch list and is not a government official to require clearance from any party to leave Kenya.

“It was a routine procedure and concern from an immigration official at the JKIA desk. He was allowed to leave after I talked to him,” said Kihalangwa.

He said there was no need for alarm over the checks at the airport.

Kiai was supposed to board a KQ flight for Amsterdam at about 7.50 am and had arrived there ready for boarding when the drama erupted.

A supervisor at the desk told Kiai he needed clearance to leave the country. The former UN Special Rapporteur was taken back by the demands and demanded to know how and why they demanded the said clearance.

IEBC commissioner Dr Roselyn Akombe was last week detained at the airport after immigration officials refused to clear her. She had to miss her flight and left the following day. She says she is expected to fly back to Kenya from New York Monday.

Sunday morning, witnesses said Kiai was agitated by the demands by the immigration officials. He was told to talk to Kihalangwa who assured him he would leave.

He had then alerted his fellow activists on the development at the airport. Ndung’u Wainaina, who was among those who talked to Kiai said it was strange for state officials to demand clearance from even private citizens.


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“I think we are back to the dark era when officials would do anything because of your perceived political affiliation. We have to resist this,” he said.

Wainaina said Kiai told him the officials at the airport seemed to have been waiting for orders from above to clear him.

Kiai is a board member of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. The commission was recently involved in an altercation with the NGO board after the later ordered its accounts be frozen.

They obtained orders from a court stopping NGO coordination board boss Fazul Mahamed from executing the freeze order.


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