GOVERNMENT MUST PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF THE SENGWER AND END FORCED EVICTIONS

Civil society organizations during a press conference on Embobut Forest forced evictions

The civil society comprised of human rights and conservation organizations once again call on the Kenyan government to end forced evictions in Embobut Forest and ensure that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

Yesterday the official government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe, publicly announced that the government will launch a probe into the shooting and killing of Robert Kiprotich and serious injuring of David Kipkosgei. It was officially communicated that any officer who will be found culpable of the murder of Robert Kiprotich will be held liable.

The government’s commitment to end the ongoing forced evections in Embobut Forest has been publicly contradicted by Marakwet East Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Stephen Sangolo. The DCC informed the press that the operation of forcibly evicting Sengwer community members in Embobut Forest must continue.

As human rights and conservation organizations, we are deeply concerned about the mixed messaging by the government. Sangolo’s remarks come at a time when the Sengwer community is still coming to terms with the loss of one of their own, injury of another and displacement from their homes. The remarks further threaten the early resumption of the suspended Ksh. 3.6 billion funding to the Water Towers Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Programme.

We urge the inter-ministerial committee set up by the Kenyan Government to use this time to reflect and adopt a new approach to conservation, sustainable development and human rights to the ancestral land of the Sengwer indigenous people and others in Kenya. We also call on the government to put in place human rights frameworks that enable genuine consultation with the affected persons.

As we have said repeatedly, forced evictions violates 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.

Consequently we call on the government of Kenya to immediately;

  1. Publicly communicate an immediate halt to the Embobut evictions.
  2. Institute the probe promised and communicate publicly the outcome of the probe within seven days.
  3. Ensures consistency in their messaging to foster public confidence in their commitment to resolve the conflict.
  4. Ensure that all those affected by the forced evictions are allowed to return to their lands and no further retaliation happens to Sengwer leaders and community.
  5. Put in place human rights frameworks that enable genuine consultation with the affected persons.
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