The year 2012 brings with it a great hope and high expectations for the Nubian community on Kenya. This is so because in September 2011, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Child published its first ever decision, relating to discrimination in access to nationality for Nubian children in Kenya. ACERWC was responding to a communication filed under its complaints procedure. The committee found the case to be admissible because the national proceeding here in Kenya had effectively stalled making the case an exception to the requirement to exhaust domestic remedies before turning to the committee.
The arguments put forward to the Committee of Experts are:
1. Violation of the rights to acquire nationality at birth for Nubian children.
2. Unlawful discrimination against Nubian children on basis of their ethnic background.
3. Consequential violations: as a result of historical tre- atment as foreigners, citizen status was uncertain, denial of equal access to essential services such as education and healthcare.
The Committee found Kenya’s action violated Article 6 of the African Charter provision protecting children’s right. The Committee then made its recommendations to the government of Kenya to correct the violations within six month after the ruling.
ACERWC decision’s significance extends well beyond Kenya. Nubians are conscious that their case could have far reaching implications for other marginalized groups in Kenya and Africa as a whole. Their example should also be a source of hope and encouragement for stateless communities struggling to claim their rights all over the world.
Time to celebrate or is it still too early?