By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – An international rights group on Friday condemned the Kenyan government over the ongoing eviction of more than 60,000 people from the country’s Mau forest water catchment area.
In a statement, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the evictions which started in July are being done in an “abusive” and “unlawful” manner.
Otsieno Namwaya, senior Africa researcher at HRW said: In efforts to preserve Mau forest, the government has conducted evictions in an abusive, unlawful manner, and isn’t following its own guidelines, while forest conservation goals are laudable, the way the government is carrying out the evictions raises serious human rights concerns.”
Namwaya said that HRW had already spoken to more than 60 evicted people and all of them said that Kenyan security forces used “excessive force” to evict the communities that authorities say encroached forest land.
“At least nine people, including two babies, died during the eviction. The officials beat people, torched homes, and destroyed crops, leaving thousands of people homeless and stranded in the cold. At least four people remain missing, and families say they have received no police support to search for their missing relatives,” the rights group said.
It noted that even though deaths have been reported by at least 30 families, the government has failed to investigate.
“Kenya’s government should ensure that evictions in the name of conservation are humane and lawful, the authorities should address the past violations before proceeding with more evictions and ensure that evictions meet international and national standards,” it added.