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Court to rule if it has authority to hear Mau children’s case

Friday September 20 2019

Mau Forest

A woman and her family leaves Mau Forest on September 1, 2019 following a government directive. The Environment and Land Court in Narok will in the next five days rule on whether it has jurisdiction to hear a case seeking to stop the government from violating the rights of children caught up in the eviction. PHOTO| GEORGE SAYAGIE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE SAYAGIE
By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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The Environment and Land Court in Narok will in the next five days rule on whether it has jurisdiction to hear a case by 35 lawyers and a lobby group seeking to stop the government from violating the rights of children caught up in the Mau Forest eviction.

This is after the Narok County government, represented by Kemboi S.L and Company Advocates, filed a preliminary objection on point of law, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter as it is based on violation of children’s rights to education and other basic rights which is a reserve of the High Court.

LAWYERS FAULTED

Mr Kemboi argued that the matter should be taken to a constitutional court for hearing and determination, faulting the move by the 35 lawyers to file it in an environment court.

Justice Mohammed Kullow said the court, upon hearing the submissions of all parties, will set the matter for ruling on September 25, 2019.

"All parties to submit their responses before the 24th, and I will rule on the matter on Wednesday next week," said Mr Kullow.

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The matter came up for hearing on Thursday with lawyers for the State, the Attorney-General, interested parties and those representing the Narok County government making submissions on whether the Environment court can handle the case.

State Counsel Oscar Iredi and Miss Fatma Ali are representing the AG while Mr Martin ole Kamwaro and Mr Antony Meingati represent interested parties, with Mr Kemboi representing the Narok County government.

CASE TRANSFERRED

The petition was first filed before Justice Mwangi Njoroge in the Kitale Environment court but was later transferred to Narok.

It is challenging the eviction on grounds that it affects the rights of school children in government schools within the forest.

The petitioners also argued that the eviction was done in inhumane manner and should therefore be stopped.

The case was first placed before the constitutional and human rights division on August 15, 2019 where Justice John Mativo transferred the file to the Environment court before it was pushed to Nakuru.

The two State counsel told the court that two similar petitions are in the same court and the Narok High Court and requested that they be consolidated to one case.

"The two issues of conserving the Mau Forest and the two previous petitions cannot be separated from the case relating to children as it relates to land and environment matters," stated Mr Iredi.