"Statelessness" gaining prominence day by day

@mustafa_mahmoud @AndrewOchola @lauragoodwin: You can read this example of statelessness from Allafrica.com:

Tanzania: Former Country Director of NGO Stateless

Musoma — Former Country Director of Ped World Organisation Anudo Ochieng’ Anudo is stranded at no-man’s land on the Tanzania-Kenya border at Sirari. Mr Anudo insists he was born of Tanzanian parents and lived and worked in Manyara Region for years before he fell out with immigration officials.

Mr Anudo who worked for the German based NGO is technically stateless, with Tanzania immigration authorities maintaining he is a foreigner while their Kenyan counterparts say they have no records to prove he is a citizen of that country.

A few days after Mr Anudo was evicted from Tanzania, his case took a dramatic twist when Kenyan immigration officials also ordered him out of the country. Mr Anudo maintains his predicament began when he was arrested in Babati and dumped at the Namanga border, finding himself homeless at Sirari after an appearance in a Kenyan court that ordered his repatriation.

Efforts by his parents who live in Mara Region to have him back have proven fruitless. His citizenship controversy started in November 2011 when he was called by Manyara District Administrative Secretary (DAS) invited him to discuss certain issues.

Mr Anudo said on arrival at the DAS offices he was met by immigration officers who informed him they had doubts over his citizenship. He was asked to provide evidence to show he was Tanzanian. He reportedly showed them his passport which they said was secured illegally.

The following day he went to Manyara the Immigration offices, together with the DAS where he was told the Immigration Department would conduct an investigation concerning his citizenship starting with a visit to his home village.

“The officials asked for Sh600,000 to carry out the visit in Mara,” he narrated.

He said that gave them the money but the following day the immigration officers asked him to add Sh1.8 million. He refused and asked them to return his passport.

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Interesting example of how individuals can become stateless… and how governments can manipulate laws to try to push certain populations out of their territory.

For legal empowerment practitioners, how can we respond effectively to these kinds of situations? Group-based statelessness (no matter the cause) may be slightly more feasible to address in certain situations - whether because the affected people are geographically clustered or because one change in law or policy could have large ripple effects. For individuals, they may be hard to locate (or not even know their predicament is statelessness) - and even if court decisions or other policies could apply to many people, finding them to implement could be challenging.

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This is a sad case of how people find themselves on the wrong end of the law, unwittingly, and all because governments do not recognise certain categories of people in their territories. Children are the worst affected; they lose out on state benefits because they are not citizens. No nationality equals no identity. Laws should be there to protect and promote human rights and should not be punitive. There is need to respect international human rights standards by governments throughout Africa. I would lobby for public interest litigation in Mr Anudo’s case.

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