Citing terrorism, judge reverses Kenya travel ruling for child

Napa man's daughter may not visit Kenya with her mother
2013-10-17T17:35:00Z Citing terrorism, judge reverses Kenya travel ruling for childKERANA TODOROV Napa Valley Register
October 17, 2013 5:35 pm  • 

Three months ago, Justin Stewart stood before the Historic Courthouse to protest Judge Diane Price’s decision to allow his ex-wife, Waithira Kamau, to take their 19-month-old daughter to visit her home country of Kenya.

Stewart was a happier man Wednesday, a day after Price stayed her order until June 2014, preventing his ex-wife from taking their daughter to the east Africa country.

In August, Stewart argued that Kenya was an unsafe place for his daughter to visit. In September, terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida killed more than 60 people at an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi during a four-day siege — an incident cited in the judge’s new ruling.

“I’m relieved right now,” Stewart said Wednesday as he and his daughter took a stroll in downtown Napa.

This summer, Stewart had argued in court unsuccessfully that Kenya was dangerous — home to terrorism, child trafficking and abduction, and a place where 34,000 children a year die from malaria. He also feared his ex-wife, a Kenyan citizen, would not return to the United States.

However, on Aug. 14, Price ruled in favor of Kamau, saying the Napa resident could take her daughter to Kenya “no more than three weeks at a time and no more than two times before the minor turns (6) years old.”

A few weeks later, gunmen with al-Shabab, an al-Qaida’s affiliate based in Somalia, overtook the shopping mall and started shooting.

Price issued her new ruling Tuesday after Stewart, a Napa tour guide, appealed his case and represented himself in court. Exhibit A was the terrorist attack on the Nairobi shopping mall.

“Based on new facts related to the (Westgate) Mall incident in (Nairobi), any travel request including passport signatures for the minor child to go to Kenya, has been denied, subject to reconsideration in June,” according to the court minutes on file in Napa County Superior Court.

The judge also appointed an attorney to represent the child, now 22 months. The attorney, whose fees will be borne by both parents, will prepare a report by June on the health and safety risks the child could suffer, “including any act of terrorism, if permitted to travel to Kenya.”

Price ordered Kamau not to travel to areas prohibited to U.S. embassy personnel.

Stewart noted that by June, his daughter may be old enough to be able to receive inoculations against some of the common diseases in Kenya and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment program, a free service that updates U.S. citizens on travel warnings, alerts and other information.

Neither Kamau nor her attorney could be reached for comment.

This summer, Kamau, a nurse, said she did not know when she would travel to Kenya to visit relatives. She said she wanted to make the trip so that her daughter could see her immediate family she had never met. She also refuted Stewart’s assertions that Kenya was a dangerous country.

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(7) Comments

  1. ValleySwag
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    ValleySwag - October 17, 2013 7:30 pm
    While I certainly sympathize with the father and understand African countries are not necessarily the safest of places, reversing a decision based on a terrorist attack is not very rational.

    The U.S. has had our fair share of terrorist attacks both foreign and domestic. Would this judge have prevented travel to New York after 9/11?

    People fear what they don't understand. And while there are definitely extra decisions to be made when considering any international travel with children, I believe it can be done relatively safely and would ultimately be beneficial to the child.
  2. rocketman
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    rocketman - October 18, 2013 5:13 am

    The point of concern in this decisions is that Kenya is NOT a signer to the Hague
    Convention. For that reason alone, the child should not be allowed to travel to this country. Once there, the mother has immunity from ever returning the child if she chooses to stay in that country.
  3. Caribfan
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    Caribfan - October 18, 2013 3:14 pm
    I think Judge Price made a wise decision - she had to have a good reason to reverse her earlier decision after further thought, and I think it's prudent.
  4. selfreflec
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    selfreflec - October 23, 2013 12:12 pm
    I can see the man's point of expecting the ex-wife to abscond. What I find irrelevant is the country is unsafe. This is like saying we should have the World Games in Boston because their was a bomb there 6 months ago. Or better yet, Kenyans should not visit Napa because one was murdered there in 1998.
  5. selfreflec
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    selfreflec - October 23, 2013 12:14 pm
    Rocketman. The United States is not a signatory of the Roman Statute either. The President cannot therefore be indicted there.
  6. kilosh
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    kilosh - October 23, 2013 12:20 pm
    just because terrorists attacked kenya and killed people does not justify the need for a child not to visit the maternal relatives.in all due respect september 11 killed over 2000 innocent people and goverments did not give travel advisories to your country.on tv we see shootings in american schools almost daily.this shows america is more dangerous than kenya.for your information,terrorists thrive on fear and once you give in to this fear the terrorists have won.......rocketman.kenya is a signatory to the rome statute and america is not fool.dont be ignorant
  7. selfreflec
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    selfreflec - October 23, 2013 12:43 pm
    Kilosh
    I agree with your point but the name calling is not warranted. Rocketman may have had a chance to consider your point of view but I suspect he will now.
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