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Echesa now denies link to deported Pakistani women

Sports, Culture and Heritage Cabinet secretary Rashid Echesa has denied involvement in human trafficking and defended his decision to sanction the entry of eight Pakistani women into the country.

Echesa, however, admitted issuing a “letter of no objection” to the director of Immigration Service to allow the women, said to be belly dancers, to get into the country as part of the ministry’s mandate to  facilitate cultural integration.

The women were arrested at a club in Parklands and deported on Saturday for allegedly violating the terms of their entry.

In a statement, the Interior ministry said the Pakistanis had been sent back to their country “for violating regulation 26 (3) of Kenya Citizenship and Migration regulations, by engaging in activities outside of what was specified in their entry documents”.

Echesa has not threatened to institute  legal proceedings against a local media house for publishing reports which, he said, linked him to human trafficking.

Echesa is said to have facilitated the entry of the dancers into Kenya to perform at a privately owned club in Westlands, Nairobi, claims the CS has denied.

“The only role played by the Ministry of Sports and Heritage was to support the Pakistani nationals’ application for special passes to participate in an Indian cultural festival via issuance of a ‘Letter of no Objection’ to the Director of Immigration Services as part of the ministry’s mandate in promoting cultural integration,” said the ministry in a statement signed by Director of Administration Charles Wambia.

The three-page statement, did not, however, mention the Indian cultural event the Pakistanis were to perform in. Instead the focus was on clearing Echesa from any wrong doing and spelling out Department of Immigration Services role.

“The Honorable Cabinet Secretary takes great exception and offense at the negative portrayal of his office and self by implications, innuendo and insinuations of the article which seeks to portray him as engaging in the criminal and immoral enterprise of human trafficking and further of usurping the role of Director of Immigration Services contrary to the law.

“Such portrayal has the potential of diminishing his good standing in society and is greatly injurious to his character and reputation.

Echesa therefore demands an immediate, unconditional and equally prominent apology from the newspaper and a full retraction of his association with human trafficking or unprocedural issuance of work permits to full effect failure to which he shall seek legal redress and compensation for damages,” the statement read.

Elsewhere, Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to sack Echesa. Speaking on Saturday, Malala accused the CS for putting the name of the Luhya community in disrepute. “The President can find better people from Kakamega to fill that Cabinet position,” said Malala.

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