Who is the Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK)?
RCK, also referred to as ‘Haki House’ (Right House) by refugees, is a national non-governmental organization established in 1998, to promote and protect the rights and dignity of refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs and other forced migrants in Kenya and the wider East African region. Its core mandate is to: provide legal aid services and psycho-social counseling; engage in advocacy for policy change and to develop legislation in line with international instruments regarding the management of refugees and other forced migrants; and to raise awareness regarding the plight and rights of the vulnerable groups through research and information dissemination.
How does RCK address the legal needs of those displaced?
Legal Aid: RCK supports refugees and other forced migrants by providing legal aid through the means of legal clinics, including mobile legal clinics, detention facilities, telephone helplines and in court premises. In 2021, RCK attended to the needs of 3639 persons (2249W, 1390M) at their legal aid clinics in various refugee camps in Kenya. Additionally, they also provided legal representation to 669 refugees and asylum seekers (162W, 507M) in courts and police stations. As such, legal support was offered in cases of child protection, Refugee Status Determination (RSD) fast tracking, inquiries on access to business and work permits, child custody and maintenance, inquiries on data transfer and camp exemptions, arbitrary police arrests and harassment and durable solutions.
Legal Empowerment and Capacity Development
- RCK has worked closely with:
- community incentive workers who support in identifying and referring cases in the community for legal and psychosocial support,
- survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) by providing legal information on GBV representation to 394 survivors.
- Refugee Protection Partners (government and non-governmental agencies advancing refugee protection) to enhance holistic, relevant and timely service delivery to refugees.
- Furthermore, RCK has:
- conducted capacity strengthening of law enforcement officers on refugee protection frameworks,
- sensitized persons of concern and host communities on the provisions of the Refugees Bill and built capacity to draft and submit Memoranda to Members of Parliament during public participation.
Is RCK involved in systems change work to improve the legal framework for those displaced?
On 17th November, 2021 the President of Kenya passed the Refugees Bill, 2019, aiming to create a more robust and inclusive socio-economic environment that enhances self-reliance and advances protection of the refugees. In the past two years, RCK was actively involved in advocacy and lobbying on the Refugee Bill with government officials at the county and national Levels in Kenya. RCK also sensitized persons of concern and host communities on the provisions of the Refugees Bill and built capacity to draft and submit Memoranda to Members of Parliament during public participation.
How did RCK partner with RLOs to address their legal needs in 2021?
RCK partnered with 7 refugee-led organizations in 2021, including to share knowledge around constitution development, registration procedures and legal compliance, and to sensitize them on business registrations, the process of applying for work permits, contracts, and operations of partnerships. RCK was able to assist with the registration of 2 community based organizations who carry out the businesses of sanitation and women empowerment in the Kakuma Refugee Camp.
Did RCK work with any pro bono partners in 2021?
RCK recruited and maintained a country-wide pro bono lawyer scheme to assist in legal representation of asylum seekers and refugees in different parts of Kenya. Some of the pro bono advocates received training on refugee law at RCK’s annual Legal Practitioners training. The pro bono advocates represented a total of 149 beneficiaries in documentation and immigration related cases.
Was RCK involved in any other partnerships to strengthen its legal work?
RCK also partnered with UN Women to promote women’s economic empowerment, protection and safety against all forms of violence and exploitation. It also partnered with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Kenya to support Somali youths in their participation in non-violent and innovative community-based initiatives.
RCK partnered with HESED Africa, an organization in Nairobi, working to respond and prevent GBV through providing livelihood assistance and economic empowerment, to provide legal aid to survivors of GBV through jointly facilitated legal aid clinics.
Highlight for 2021
In 2021, the Law Society of Kenya, Nairobi branch awarded RCK- the 1st runner up in the Public Sector Legal Department of the Year category. The award is a merit based award, given after a thorough evaluation and assessment. The award recognized RCK’s outstanding standards of practice and legal service delivery.