The relationship between Kenya and the African Union (AU) is being tested after the Jubilee administration failed to comply with an order to stop the eviction of 60,000 families who had illegally settled in Mau forest.
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), an agency of the AU, has threatened to report Nairobi at the next ordinary session of the AU commission.
The commission had in November last year given the government 15 days to stop the process pending hearing and determination of complaints filed by the settlers.
The commission also ordered the government to refrain from any action that could have interfered with or threatened the rights of the settlers.
LETTER TO UHURU
In an open letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta, the commission’s chairman Solomon Ayele Dersso warned the government that the evictions were a cause of concern and would constitute violation of the African Charter as well as other regional and international human rights standards.
“I would like to assure you that the grant of this provisional measure does not in any way affect any future decision of the commission on the substance of our request,” Mr Dersso says in the letter dated November 9, 2019.
The government not only refused to respond to the order but on Thursday issued an edict, through Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya, warning the evictees against buying land within a 10-kilometre radius of the forest.
Mr Natembeya claimed those buying land for the evictees had hatched a scheme to undermine the government’s efforts to restore the forest.
“We will not allow evictees to settle less than 10km from the forest boundary so they can desist from the temptation to go back and carry on with their activities before eviction,” he said.
In September last year, the government gave the settlers a 60-day notice to leave the water tower to pave the way for the restoration of the complex.
The targeted area was land on which sits five ranches that are believed to have been illegally extended. The land is targeted for reclamation to restore the water tower that affects the lives of about 10 million people.
Politicians from the Rift Valley had opposed the eviction, warning that some 8,000 school children would suffer.
They bought land in Narok South sub-county, which is close to the forest, to settle the evictees after the government ignored their calls to stop the eviction.
The politicians had in December identified some 68 acres in Tendwet, Sogoo and Ololulunga for temporary resettlement of some of the 10,000 evicted families.
The land they bought is in Segemian (20 acres), Melelo (10), Ololulunga (15) and Sogoo (23) all along the forest.
In their complaint, the affected families – through the Centre for Comparative and International Law and the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa – had expressed fear that they would suffer irreparable damage if the eviction was carried out.
INVOKE RULE 98
The families asked the commission to invoke Rule 98 and issue provisional measures to prevent the eviction, arguing that it portends irreparable harm to them should it be carried out.
The commission used three authorities to justify its order on suspension of the eviction.
They included the Resolution on the Activities of the Human Rights of Indigenous Communities in Kenya, which was adopted in February 2018, the Resolution on the Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa adopted in 2016, and the Resolution on the Right to Adequate Housing and Protection from Forced Evictions adopted in October 2012.
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