URGENT ACTION: INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY FORCIBLY EVICTED

Sengwer Indigenous Community Living in Embobut Forest - Photo credit: Chris Chapman -Amnesty International

Kenyan authorities are forcibly evicting the Sengwer Indigenous community from their ancestral home, the Embobut forest. The evictions have been carried out by the authorities in violation of the Constitution, a High Court injunction and international human rights law, through a conservation project funded by the European Union.

Since 29 December 2017, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) operating under the authority of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has been carrying out forced evictions of members of the Sengwer Indigenous community in Embobut forest, Cherengany Hills Complex in the western highlands of Kenya. The forced evictions are being carried out despite a High Court injunction that forbids the eviction or arrest of Sengwer residents in the forest. The forced evictions violate the human rights of the Sengwer, including their right to housing and to their ancestral lands, under international law, African Union (AU) human rights standards, and the Constitution of Kenya.

According to reports from affected community members and national and international media outlets, around 100 armed KFS guards are present in the forest who have burnt at least 50 huts and fired shots into the air. On 9 January, guards reportedly fired, without hitting, shots at Paul Kiptoga, one of the community elders, as he was making his way to a meeting about the evictions with government officials. Thus far, the community has received only limited support from media, civil society, and the judiciary due to the forced evictions being executed during holiday seasons and therefore not attracting international attention.

The Embobut Forest is part of an area included in a conservation programme financed by the European Development Fund of the European Union (EU). The EU has a duty to mitigate risks of such human rights violations being perpetrated by carrying out robust human rights due diligence processes.

On 10 January Sengwer community leaders and Amnesty International secured a public commitment from the Government of Kenya for an independent investigation into the forced evictions and community dialogue with all stakeholders. However, despite a commitment by the Sengwer leaders to conserve the forest, the government declined to announce an end to forced evictions and harassment by KFS. The community remains at risk.

Please write immediately in English, Swahili or your own language urging the Kenyan authorities to:

  • Immediately order the cessation of forced evictions in Embobut forest;
  • Ensure that all those affected by the forced evictions are allowed to return to their lands and no further retaliation happens to Sengwer activists;
  • Urgently follow up and facilitate an independent investigation into the ongoing forced evictions.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 23 FEBRUARY 2018 TO:

Director of the Kenya Forest Service

Emilio N. Mugo

Kenya Forest Service Director’s Office

P.O Box 30513-00100 Nairobi Kenya

Email: director@kenyaforestservice.org

Salutation: Dear Sir

Cabinet Secretary

H.E. Prof. Judi Wakhungu

Ministry of Environment, and Natural Resources

NHIF Building,12th Floor,

Ragati Road, Upperhill

P.O BOX 30126-00100 Nairobi, Kenya

Email: cs@environment.go.ke

Salutation: Dear Cabinet Secretary

And copies to:

Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Kenya

H.E. Ambassador Stefano Dejak

Union House, Ragati Road

P O Box 45119 00100 Nairobi, Kenya

Email: stefano.dejak@eeas.europa.eu

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

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