All you need to know about refugee bill

The refugee bill 2019 is an act of parliament that is meant to provide for the recognition, protection and management of refugees, it also to give effect to the 1951 United Nations Conventions Relating to the status of Refugees, the 1967 protocol Relating to the status of refugees and the 1969 OAU convention Governing the specific aspects of Refugees problems in Africa for connected purposes.

This act shall be cited as refugee act 2019 and will come into operations upon the expiry of ninety days from the date of publication.

The bill several explanations as who can be refugees, this includes being outside of his or her country of nationality owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality membership of a particular opinion who is in Kenya and is unable or owing to such fear is unwilling to avail himself or herself for protection of his or her country of nationality.

The bill states that a person shall cease to be are refugee if such a person voluntarily re-avails himself or herself of the protection of the country of nationality.

when one re-acquires lost nationality he or she ceases to be a refugee as well when one can no longer because of circumstances in connection with which he or she was recognized  as refugee ceases to exist and refuse to avail himself of the protection of the country of nationality.

According to the bill there shall a commissioner for refugee affairs whose office shall be in the public service, its functions includes convene and chair Refugee advisory committee, receive , register, and maintain a register for all refugees in Kenya, receive and process applications for refugee status.

The refugee’s affairs also coordinate all measures necessary for promoting the welfare and protection of refugees and asylum seekers and advise the Cabinet Secretary and the committee.

They also suppose to be in liaison with the police, arrest any person suspected of committing an offence under this act. in consultation with the Cabinet Secretary,

They are also mandated to establish structures and mechanisms for management of refugee humanitarian emergencies.

The will also initiate collaboration with the development partners, projects that promote peaceful and harmonious co-existence between the host communities and refugees.

The bill establishes Refugee Status Appeals Committee which shall be the successor to the Appeal Board established under section 10 of the Refugees Act,2006.

The Cabinet secretary shall, by notice in the Gazette appoint the following persons to serve in the

Appeals Committee a representative of the Principal secretary responsible for refugee matters who shall be the chairperson of the Committee, a representative of the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, a representative of the State Department responsible for immigration, one person nominated by the Attorney General and(e) three other persons with knowledge and experience in refugee matters.

The quorum, the bill states for a meeting of the Appeal Board shall be three members.

Application for refugee status

The bill states that an application for the grant of refugee status shall be made to the commissioner either directly or through an authorized officer.

It’s says an authorized officer to whom any asylum seeker presents himself or herself shall refer that asylum seeker to the relevant authority.

The decision of the commissioner to grant or not to grant the applications shall be notified to the applicant in writing and where the application is refused, the commissioner shall give reasons.

The eligibility panel shall upon review forward to the commissioner recommendations to grant or not to grant status on a case by cases bases.


The bill states that any person entering Kenya to seek asylum shall make his or her intention known immediately upon entry or within thirty days by reporting to the nearest reception centre or the nearest government administrative office.

The Commissioner shall ensure availability of reception officers at designated entry points provided that where there are no designate reception officers, the immigration officers or other government officers stationed at the entry points shall act as reception officers.

If the reception officer who comes into contact with an asylum seeker is not an officer from the Department, the officer shall liaise with the Department for the necessary assistance or guidance.

The bill states that Subject to subsection (2) asylum seekers may be temporarily accommodated at the reception holding areas as they wait further processing by the Department.

Asylum seekers who enter the country through places, other than gazetted entry points, shall immediately report to the nearest government administrative office.


According to refugee bill every refugee and every asylum seeker within Kenya shall be entitled to the rights and be subject to the duties contained in the UN Convention, its Protocol and the OAU Convention; and all the laws in force in Kenya.

The Cabinet Secretary may, by notice in the Gazette and in consultation with the relevant county governments, designate specific counties to host refugees.

The Cabinet Secretary may, by notice in the Gazette, designate places and areas in Kenya to be transit centres for purposes of temporarily accommodating refugees.

Refugees shall be enabled to contribute to the economic and social development of Kenya by facilitating access to, and issuance of, the required documentation at both levels of Government.

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