Kethi Kilonzo help British journalist win reprieve over work permit

RESPITE: Lucy Hannan, a British journalist, with her lawyer Kethi Kilonzo leave the Milimani law courts yesterday after the High Court stopped her deportation following the expiry of her work permit. Photo/Philip Kamakya

A Briton who sued the government has got a reprieve when the High Court stopped her deportation and gave her a temporary work permit. Judge Justice Isaack Lenaola gave the order stopping the arrest and deportation of journalist Lucy Hannan when the state yesterday failed to show up in court for hearing of the matter.

The government did not only send a lawyer to court, it did not also give any response in the case in which Hannan is seeking explanation for the rejection of her work permit renewal application.

The case was filed in court on December 17 last year and the government was given time to respond to the matter. Hannan runs InformAction, an NGO that screens human rights films in rural areas and holds community discussions on justice and governance.

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It has employed 40 people. Human rights activist Maina Kiai is one of the NGO directors. Hannan was issued with a work permit for the first time in 2007 and has been renewed since. However, when she applied for renewal last year, it was rejected.

In November, an officer at the Immigration department told her that her application for the renewal of the permit had been rejected but she was not given any reason or formal communication. Hannan said she has invested for more than six years in Kenya and legitimately expects to enjoy the fruits of her investment.

She said the government is breaching the constitution and the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act by not exercising its authority in a transparent and accountable manner. Hannan said she has done everything required to obtain renewal of the permit.

As a journalist, she worked in Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda and Sudan for the BBC and British newspapers, The Guardian, The Observer and The Independent.

In 2009, she was a witness in the High Court in a case where a policeman was charged with shooting a demonstrator in Kisumu during the 2007-08 post-election violence. Hannan’s video was used as evidence. The case will be heard on March 12.


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