“I can’t be a citizen if I am still a refugee”: Challenges in the naturalisation process for Burundians in Tanzania
(4 April 2013) Approximately 162,000 former Burundian refugees in Tanzania are living in legal limbo in Tanzania. Having been accepted for naturalisation and having renounced their Burundian nationality, they are now unable to get certificates confirming their new status. The situation facing this group is the subject of a paper launched by the International Refugee Rights Initiative today, “I can’t be a citizen if I am still a refugee” Former Burundian refugees struggle to assert their new Tanzanian citizenship. The launch follows a discussion of the paper on 19 March at the University of Dar es Salaam attended by representatives from government, the UN, donors, NGOs and the academic community.
Building on research conducted in 2008, the new research conducted in late 2012 asked whether or not naturalisation has translated into genuine citizenship for this group of (former) refugees both legally and practically. Based on 101 interviews with former refugees, local government officials and members of the host community, as well as engagement with national government officials, the findings show that the former refugees are—as a matter of practice—caught somewhere between refugee status and the genuine assertion of their new citizenship. An unprecedented offer has become increasingly caught up in the realities of implementation and realpolitik. While it is important not to detract from the level of generosity of the government of Tanzania’s original offer, the process has revealed a disjuncture between presentation and reality and the whole undertaking appears to be in jeopardy.
With their applications for naturalisation accepted, but without documentation to that effect, the former refugees remain in a legal limbo.
Read the full paper.
Just Justice: Civil society, international justice and the search for accountability in Africa
A paper series developed by the International Refugee Rights Initiative in collaboration with local partners in Africa reflecting local perspectives on experiences with international justice. The series is designed to more fully explore perceptions of international justice and the social, political and legal impact of its mechanisms at the local level. It is aimed at opening up a dialogue about the successes and failures of the international justice experiment in Africa and the development of recommendations for a more productive and effective engagement going forward.
The papers in the series are:
Steps Towards Justice, Frustrated Hopes: Reflecting on the Impact of the ICC in Ituri, paper no. 2, March 2012. Lisez la version francaise.
A Poisoned Chalice? Local civil society and the International Criminal Court's engagement in Uganda, paper no. 1, January 2012. Lisez la version francaise.
Just Justice: Civil society, international justice and the search for accountability in Africa, Introductory note to the paper series, January 2012. Lisez la version francaise.
IRRI and other NGOs call on for an end to harrassment of civil society in Kenya
(3 April 2013) We, the under signed non-governmental organizations working to promote human rights and good governance in our respective countries and regionally in Africa, are gravely concerned about incidences of intimidations and hate campaigns directed at members of Kenya’s civil society increasingly occurring after the filing of a Civil society representative Petition in the Supreme Court of Kenya on the 16th March 2013, challenging the process and legitimacy of the March 4 th 2013 General Elections.
It has come to our attention that social media hate campaigns, which include using human rights activists’ passport photographs and their personal information, are being used to threaten and incite hatred against prominent Kenyan human rights defenders for challenging, the conduct of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the management of the March 4th 2013 General Election in Kenya. These messages of hate and incitement are worrisome because they single out individual members of civil society for either condemnation or reprisals.
Read the full letter here.
Challenging International Justice: The Initial Years of the International Criminal Court’s Intervention in Uganda
(4 March 2013) IRRI's Senior Researcher has just published a practice note which describes and critiques the initial years of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) involvement in Uganda from the perspective of local civil society actors. It argues that the substance and process of the ICC’s intervention fell chronically short of generating justice for those who had lived with the conflict for over two decades, and therefore created a disconnect between the priorities of those on the ground, and the priorities of the Court and its international minders. In order to unravel some of the dynamics that underpinned this disconnect, the paper asserts that the pivotal relationship between citizen and state provides a lens through which to assess any approach to generating justice in Uganda. It concludes that those promoting international justice need to be more cognisant of the fact that international justice mechanisms are obsolete unless they can move from theory to practice and make a genuine difference in people’s lives. In this regard, a better understanding and awareness of the political and social context in which they are operating, as well as greater self-critique and honesty, is critical.
The full practice note is available here.