The disputed Migingo Island. PHOTO/COURTESY
By KURIAN MUSA
The High court in Migori County, has been asked to issue prohibitive orders declaring the presence of Uganda security personnel on Migingo Island illegal.
A petition filed before Justice Antony Charo Mrima, also seeks compensation for damages and losses incurred by traders and residents of the fish rich Island, bordering Uganda. Migingo Island, is a rock measuring 2,000 sq meters and in the vicinity of Kenya-Uganda boundary
The petitioner, Dr Dan Alila, says Kenyans residing on Migingo Island that has been the subject of an ownership tussle between Kenya and Uganda for several years now have been subjected to rape, torture and other fundamental human rights violations.
Justice Mrima certified the matter urgent. The judge looked at the petition and said that there are weighty constitutional matters raised and referred the matter to the Constitutional High Court in Nairobi for directions on 24th January, 2017. The petitioner was also ordered to serve the respondents accordingly.
Kenya and Uganda came to the brink of war in 2009 over the Islet. Uganda is a landlocked country as opposed to Kenya, and the two states enjoy bilateral trade agreements.
In his case, Dr Alila submits that the border dispute could have been a matter of the International Court just like in the case of Kenya and Somalia. But says its failure of the Kenyan government officials to uphold constitutionalism.
In the Suit, the National Security Council, Defence Council, Kenya Defence Forces, Ministries of Defence, Interior, Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Attorney General are regarded to have failed in their mandate.
Kenya is facing border disputes with several of her neighbors; Somali to the North, Uganda to the South and South Sudan to the West.
Fishmongers on Migingo Island/PHOTO COURTESY
The government agencies are sued for failing to protect the bill of rights of four Kenyan Women traders namely: Adek Ngoche, Benta Adhiambo, and Sabina Achieng’, Pamela Akinyi and 150 others.
In December 29, 2013, the four traders based at Muhuru Sub-County, Migori County were in Migingo Island, when Ugandan security personnel arrested them, subjected them to rape, corporal punishment and deprived of their fish and money.
The other 150 complainants were also subjected to rape, corporal punishment and deprived of property.
The government is accused of allowing Uganda security personnel to operate illegally at the Island. A parliamentary report over the ownership of the island has been kept.
Among key concerns are; physical injuries, psychological trauma, exposure to life-threatening HIV/AIDs infections, social stigma, embarrassment, loss of property and money.
According to the petitioner, two fishermen were arrested by Uganda police while “No intervention came forth from Kenya Administrators and security officers at Migingo Island where the incident took place and was reported,” Dr Alila says.
On diverse dates between 2010 and 2015, the petitioner alleges that four Kenyan fishermen, namely, Charles Omoka Otieno, Eric George Omoka, John Olando Otigo, Dennis Langa Munda and 850 others were arrested at Migingo Island in Migori County by Ugandan police.
That they were tortured, harassed, and arbitrarily deprived off their boats, engines, fishing gear and money with impunity. Charles Otieno and Eric Omoka lost their boat, 15 HP Yamaha engine and fishing gear between Migingo Island and Muhuru Bay of Lake Victoria in December 2013.
Despite reporting the incidents, the Kenyan authorities are said not to have taken any measures.
Among issues raised are: fishermen and traders losing their earnings, developed health problems and lack a source of livelihood. Hence joblessness has crept in due to confiscation of fishing equipment and harassment.
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