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Institute for Security Studies Research
New East Africa Migration Report

"Bridge over troubled waters: migration governance and rule of law in Kenya and Ethiopia". That's the title of an insightful new research report co-authored by a team of experts and just published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria.


Border post: Cover image of the new report

Cover image of the new report


The report argues that both Kenya and Ethiopia have made noticeable efforts to improve their legal systems and institutions to uphold the rights of migrants and adhere to the law. Nevertheless, the study says, disparities exist between international instruments and national laws. Such discrepancies arise when national policies are insufficient, or poorly coordinated and implemented.

The study examines the nuanced dynamics between migration governance and the rule of law, with a particular focus on Ethiopia and Kenya as case studies.

Both nations are making commendable progress in meeting international commitments for migrant and refugee protection, bolstering their legal frameworks. However, the absence of a National Migration policy, coupled with integration and coordination issues among stakeholders and limited resources, hampers the effective implementation of ratified laws, despite overall progress.

While Ethiopia and Kenya revised their Refugee Laws in 2019 and 2021, signaling a commitment to provide essential services to refugees, practical outcomes reveal a disparity in treatment based on refugees' origins.

In addition, Ethiopia, facing challenges since 2020 due to insecurity, inter-ethnic conflict, and a state of emergency, is grappling with resource constraints impacting migration and refugee management.

Inadequate migration governance and a lack of the rule of law may fuel illegal activities such as human trafficking and smuggling, posing security threats and straining regional diplomatic relations.

To address these challenges and gaps between policy and practice, the report proposes the following recommendations:

  • Policy Evaluation: Regularly evaluate the implementation of policy and laws to identify areas for improvement.
  • Capacity Building: Invest in strengthening the capacity of law enforcement agencies and stakeholders involved in migration management, focusing on skills and knowledge of migration laws.
  • Private Sector Engagement: Involve the private sector in migration governance, especially regarding labour migration and migrant integration.
  • Collaboration Enhancement: Enhance collaboration among stakeholders, implementing effective counter-trafficking strategies and providing support for victims.
  • Synergies and Partnerships: Build synergies and partnerships among member states through working groups on migration to improve migration data management and facilitate information sharing.

These proactive measures would underscore the commitment of Ethiopia and Kenya to navigate and overcome the complex challenges associated with migration, promoting inclusive policies and collaborative frameworks for sustainable solutions.

The report was authored by Margaret Monyani, Adamnesh Bogale and Ottilia Anna Maunganidze.

Read the full report here:

Bridge over troubled waters: migration governance and rule of law in Kenya and Ethiopia




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