Thursday, April 4, 2013

No Reprieve Yet for Kenyans Jailed in China


An attempt to have Kenyans jailed in China returnhome to serve time in local prisons flopped because the two countries have not signed a prisoner exchangeprogramme.

The convicts include five prisoners handed a death sentence over drug trafficking and dozens others serving life sentences.

Lack of a prisoner exchange programme means the death row convicts, sentenced to death three years ago, may have been faced the hangman by now.

 “Kenya does not enjoy a prisoner exchange programme with China therefore it is unlikely any prisoners were repatriated,” says Chinese embassy in Nairobi spokesman Wu Shifan. Mr Wu could, however, not confirm whether the Kenyans sentenced to hang had been executed. The five were sentenced to death after admitting to drug trafficking charges in different cities in China, four years ago.

They include Peter Amisi Obonyo, Josephine Achieng Onim and Grace Lucy Omondi. Six others were handed life sentences while 20 were convicted to a cumulative jail term of 150 years.

The convicts were part of the more than 200 Kenyans held in various jails in China, India, Pakistan, UK and other Asian countries over drug-related offences.

Some already serving jail terms were university students lured into the narcoticstrade to work as couriers.

Business interests

Foreign Affairs PS declined to explain the progress of the prisoner exchangeprogramme, suggesting Kenya’s pleas may have been rejected.

Kenya is only among several counties around the world seeking a prisonerexchange programme with China, including Australia, owing to the growing integration and cross-border business interests.

The Nairobi embassy estimates there are about 10,000 Chinese legally in Kenya, but there could be more who entered illegally.

Several Chinese nationals in Kenya have in recent months been arrested and charged with poaching and smuggling of game trophies, especially ivory.

Earlier this week, Tian Yi, a Chinese national, was found guilty of smuggling 439 pieces of ivory after he was arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. He was fined Sh30,000. China–Kenya relations date back to 14 December 1963, two days after the formal establishment of Kenyan independence, when China became the fourth country to open an embassy in Nairobi.

Military exchange between the two countries has been increasing in the past decade. General Liu Jingsong, commander of the Lanzhou Military Region, led China’s first military delegation to Kenya in December 1996; Major General Nick Leshan, a commander of the Kenyan Air Force, paid a return visit in 1997.

- The Standard

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