Governor Chepkwony tells state off on eviction plan

An Aerial view of Maasai Mau Forest. [File, Standard]

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony has raised concerns over plans by the State to force 300 families evicted from Maasai Mau Forest last year to leave a 13-acre land in Tendwet Narok South.

The families were settled on the land after the government refused to compensate them for forest land they allegedly acquired from the defunct County Council of Narok.

“The evictees moved out of the trust land and to force them to vacate private land near the forest is a violation of their rights,” the governor said.

Last month, Narok South Deputy County Commissioner Felix Kisau said the camp where the families have settled is congested and therefore a health risk.

Mr Kisau had issued the evictees with a notice to vacate the land, noting it could only accommodate 50 families.

The land was bought from an individual by a section of Rift Valley leaders who raised funds in a bid to resettle the families evicted from the forest by the government last September.

The legislators, led by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, had promised to raise more funds to resettle the families within Narok County, an issue that seemed to have irked some government officials and politicians who were spearheading the removal of settlers from Mau Forest.

Chepkwony yesterday said the State fears that the world would witness the inhuman treatment it was subjecting its citizens to.

The governor has been in the forefront of championing the rights of Mau Forest settlers.

He filed a case in 2018 on behalf of the evictees. The case has since been transferred to the East African Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania. 

At Nakuru Environment court lies another case which the governor is also a party to. The case before a three-judge bench is yet to be determined.

More than 3,300 people last year left Mau Forest following an order by the government.

The families were rendered homeless and a section of Rift Valley leaders who sympathised with the evictees bought land in Tendwet to resettle them.

Though the African Commission on Human and People's Right had issued orders stopping the Kenyan government from evicting the settlers, the same was not implemented.

The commission, during the 65th Ordinary Session of the African Commission held from October 21 to November 10, 2019, in Banjul Gambia, called on the Kenyan government to refrain from any actions which may interfere with the rights of residents occupying the land in the Mau Forest Complex. 

The ruling was made following an application made by the settlers through the Centre for Comparative and International Law and Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa on behalf of the settlers.

The commission further called on the Kenyan government to report back on the implementation of provisional measures within 15 days of receipt of its decision.

The residents, in the petition, had launched a complaint to the secretariat of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights on September 30, 2019, against President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration, which is a State party to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights.