Mau Forest evictions row goes to The Hague

By Roselyne Obala and Daniel Wesangula | Saturday, Aug 4th 2018 at 00:00
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A house on flames at Ororwet in Masai Mau Forest on July 21, 2018. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The emotive debate over Mau Forest evictions has taken an unprecedented turn with lawyers representing some 40,000 families now invoking the attention of The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a letter dated August 3 to the Office of The Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, law firm Sigey arap Bett and Company Advocates says the deportation and forcible transfer of civilian populations around the Mau is contrary to Article7 of the Rome Statute.

“On various occasions in the month of June, July and August 2018, the Government of Kenya undertook to evict, destroy property and forcefully expel nearly 40,000 families believed to be of one ethnic community; the Kipsigis,” the letter reads.

The Mau evictions have been a thorn in the flesh of various administrations over the past 10 years, each attempting eviction but ultimately reneging on the decision.

It is believed that in the run-up to the 2013 elections, the Mau debate caused Opposition chief Raila Odinga votes in the Rift Valley.

The law firm alleges that the eviction has caused great suffering for young children, most of whom have contracted respiratory diseases due to the cold weather in the area.

“Since their houses were torched by the authorities, the situation has created a humanitarian crisis and there has been no intervention from the Kenyan government,” the letter reads.

It also alleges that the government has watched from the sidelines as local leaders whip up emotions.

The ICC is, however, not obligated to act on the letter. It is also not clear whether the evidence alluded to by the law firm will reach the threshold required by the ICC or whether such matters fall under the international court’s jurisdiction.


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