9 July 2005

Kenya: Lobby Protests Forest Evictions

Nairobi — An International housing rights lobby group has written to the Government to protest the evictions in Mau Forest.

The Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) in Geneva accused the Government of evicting the squatters inhumanely. COHRE's Deputy Director Jean du Plessis said the evictions contravened the Government's policies and international law.

He said the Government had made no effort to resettle or compensate the victims. The evicted families are camping in Narok and Bomet towns.

Plessis said COHRE had received reports that evictions were also carried out in Nkaroni area of Mau Forest on 6 July in a similar manner.

He said international law demanded that Governments should evict people in exceptional circumstances after exhausting the alternatives. He said the evictions threatened the lives of over 50,000 poor people and if they must be carried out, no one should be rendered homeless.

"Kenya risks massive increase in homeless people and violence unless the Government revises land and eviction orders," Plessis warned.

Meanwhile Internal security minister John Michuki yesterday announced he was ready to meet Rift Valley MPs over the evictions. Michuki agreed to meet the MPs to defuse the growing tension over the evictions .

The meeting will be on Monday at 5pm at Harambee House.

Michuki said there has been a lot of debate on Government policy on eviction from gazetted forests and trust lands.

Addressing a press conference at his office, Michuki said some statements by the leaders touched on public order.

And Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile yesterday hit out at the Lands Ministry over what he termed 'misleading directives to the public on illegally allocated land'.

Kalembe said he had on Tuesday led his constituents to repossess a piece of grabbed public land but police repulsed them.

He said the 30 acres of land at Kiboko meant for a trading centre had been illegally allocated to a former administrator. Kalembe said the directive by Lands Permanent Secretary Erastus Mwongera should not be taken seriously.

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