Rights group oppose 'proposed' 17,000ha Mau Forest allocations

Groups say the government wants to take some portion from Mau Forest to resettle squatters.

Tuesday March 22 2016

This 2012 photo shows human settlements at the foot of Logoman Forest, which is one of the Mau Forest Eastern Blocks.

This 2012 photo shows human settlements at the foot of Logoman Forest, one of the Mau Forest Eastern Blocks. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Two human rights groups have opposed the intended hiving off of 17,000 hectares in Mau Forest for resettlement.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) say they oppose the government move and are demanding that National Land Commission investigate how some land titles were issued in the area.

In a joint statement, they said they have reports that the government wants to take some portion from Mau Forest to resettle squatters in an area that is already the subject of litigation in court by the local Ogiek community.

Mr Kevin Mogeni, the vice-chairman of ICJ Council, told reporters at the Intercontinental Hotel that allowing such allocation would continue a dangerous habit of forced evictions.

"There is a high likelihood that the pattern of evictions could spill into the disputed lands, which are the subject of a court case.

"We demand the status quo to remain and have the National Land Commission investigate how some people got land titles on communal parcels of land," he said.

Mr Samwel Mohochi, ICJ's executive director, said the government would be in contempt of court if it goes on to issue the parcels without first investigating the titles some people have there.

"We must protect all rightful owners of this land while due process is followed. The rights of the Ogieks should not be violated through forced evictions."

The Ogieks filed a case at the African Court of Human and People's Rights in Arusha to demand their communal land in 2009. The case is still going on.

But a High Court ruling in Nakuru in 2012 said there should be no further allocation of land and ordered the land commission to check the validity of the titles issued to some people in the previous years.

Both ICJ and the KHRC say the commission has not done as directed.

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