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Civil rights groups term Athi-river demolitions as inhuman

 Demolitions at a controversial land that belongs to the East African Portland Cement company in Athi River on October 16, 2023. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC) and Mazingira Institute have described the demolitions of multi-million homes in Athi-River as gross violation against human rights.

They said the move goes against United Nations Guidelines together which stipulates that evictions cannot be conducted before a notice is issued.

“We will meet the victims and do documentation for filing of the case against the gross violations of human rights for shelter and housing,” the group’s lawyer Kelly Malenya stated.

At the same time, they called on the government to investigate the circumstances under which the victims settled before their houses were brought down.

“Evictions cannot happen if the notice is not displayed in less than five strategic locations within the occupied land. What we have witnessed is a stark contradiction to the regulations,” KNHRC Executive Director Davis Malombe said

The Commission’s Program Manager Mary Kambo said that the current evictions had no legal basis.

“During the campaign the President promised that no one will be forcefully evicted. It is ridiculous now to advertise the land after the demolitions have occurred,” Kambo stated.

The human rights groups asked the government to provide humanitarian assistance, including shelter, food and clothing, to the vulnerable groups such as women, children and older people.

On October,13 Ruto ordered title deeds around the export processing zones in the Athi River that have been developed for more than 10 years to be revoked.

 The market price of the land in question is now at about Sh2 million for a 50 by 100 plot but most buyers bought the same parcels for as low as Sh400,000 ten years ago.

Some victims of the ongoing demolitions said that they had secured bank loans to buy the plots.

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