Section 8(4) of the Immigration Act, clearly states that an individual who fails to disclose his/her dual citizenship within three months is liable to pay a fine of Ksh.5 million, three years imprisonment or both.
A complaint filed by businessman Kariuki Ndegwa showed how the law incriminates thousands of Kenyan citizens by birth who have acquired citizenship of other countries. Kenyan citizens were in no position to enjoy their right to enter Kenya for fear of being arrested at the airport on account of a crime under this law.
Furthermore, the law did not provide defense or an exception if the stipulated time frame of three months upon getting the second citizenship elapses. The law was discriminating as it only targeted Kenyans, not other foreign nationals punishing them on no grounds.
“It is disproportionate and excessive to punish Kenyans working abroad through conviction and stiff sentencing on account of an administrative issue of disclosure that can be achieved through less restrictive means,” Kariuki complained.
The High Court has temporarily suspended implementation of the law punishing Kenyans who fail to disclose their dual citizenship.
“In the interim and pending of the petition, the court be pleased and hereby issues a conservatory order in public interest and in the end of justice, suspending and or staying the continued implementation of action under prosecution or any act enforcing section 8(4) of the Kenyan Citizenship and Immigration Act against the petitioner or any other Kenyan Citizen in Kenya or in the diaspora who has acquired dual citizenship,” read a part of the order.
Under dual citizenship or dual nationality, a person is considered a legal citizen of two or more countries, meaning they can conduct businesses and travel often across the two nations. But the underlying laws have made it difficult to enjoy dual citizenship. Victims can only hope that the court scraps them all away for good.