A Tanzanian opposition politician is seeking asylum in Kenya and has pleaded with the country’s authorities not to deport him back to his homeland, which he has described as a “persecution” paradise.
Godbless Lema, who is currently being held at a police station near the border with Tanzania, says he fears for his life and that of his family. He says, as a result, he has been forced to flee.
Rights Group Amnesty International has called on Kenya not to forcibly return Lema to Tanzania, where he faces political persecution and imprisonment.
Amnesty International warns of stifling dissenting voices in Tanzania:
Lema is currently being held at a police station in Kajiado, about 80km from Kenya’s border with Tanzania. The former MP says he has received death threats.
Media reports in Kenya said there are credible reports that Kenya may deport the politician. His lawyer says Lema has contacted UNHCR to seek asylum.
Amnesty International in a statement said by deporting him, Kenya would be going against the principle of non-refoulment, which prohibits countries from turning away asylum-seekers at the border or deporting them to a country where they risk persecution.
We call on the Government of Kenya to URGENTLY process Godbless Lema’s asylum as per its obligations under international law and not deport the opposition politician back to Tanzania.
Read our statement below. @FredMatiangi @IG_NPS pic.twitter.com/bJ0b1PkKTl
— Amnesty Kenya (@AmnestyKenya) November 9, 2020
Executive Director Irungu Houghton has asked Kenya to offer him shelter and protection.
Lema joins a growing list of Tanzania’s opposition politicians who are faced with government crackdown days after President John Pombe Magufuli won a second term in office.
Opposition Presidential Candidate Tundu Lissu, who has denounced the results of the elections and called for mass action, is currently sheltered at the German Embassy in Dar es Salaam.
John Magufuli begins second term as Tanzania’s President despite concerns over his recent election victory: