The KNCHR is gravely concerned by the ongoing forced evictions in Kibera which is not only a violation of the law and human rights but also an unfortunate breach of trust and bad faith by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and other concerned agencies. The KNCHR is particularly disappointed that the evictions are happening despite assurances from KURA that no evictions would be effected before completion and implementation of the ongoing enumeration and relocation of the Project Affected Persons (PAPs).
The KNCHR intervened on this matter when affected residents threatened to hold demonstrations against the impending evictions. The Commission reached out to various stakeholders and facilitated several meetings aimed at ensuring a negotiated resolution of the matter in a win-win outcome in line with the law and in compliance with human rights. The meetings brought together representative from the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) National Land Commission (NLC), Project Affected Persons (Individuals and Institutions) and Civil Society Organizations. The meeting of 10th July 2018 at KURA offices resolved that;
On 16th July 2018, another meeting was held in Kibera at the Assistant County Commissioner’s office attended by Kenya Urban Roads Authority, National Land Commission, KNCHR, Office of the Member of Parliament and Representatives of the affected persons to discuss the enumeration exercise and the relocation plan. Specific concerns were raised by residents about the fate of structures and people still residing on the proposed road corridor, which included eight learning institutions and religious centres. The Kenya Urban Roads Authority assured the meeting that schools will not be demolished until the close of the term and until measures are taken to address the plight of the affected students. The KNCHR observed the enumeration exercise until 20th July 2018 and KURA undertook to revert to the stakeholders on the outcome of the exercise which would then inform the relocation plan.
On 23rd July 2018, early morning, the KNCHR received disturbing reports from the residents that demolitions of structures had commenced supervised by contingents of heavily armed security officers. Later in the day, KURA posted a press statement on its twitter platform dated 20th July 2018 purporting to have issued a notice to the residents to vacate over the weekend. The residents maintained they were unaware of the notice. The KNCHR was also not informed by KURA of the looming eviction. It is curious that the notice was placed on KURA’s Twitter page midday Monday 23rd July 2018, hours after the demolition had begun, while it is dated 20th July 2018.
The demolitions have so far left hundreds of people homeless, destroyed livelihoods, learning institutions and places of worship.
This is despite High Court orders in Petition 974 of 2016 prohibiting the government from evicting residents of Kibera without putting in place a Resettlement Action Plan. In the ruling delivered on 28th April 2018 the Court ordered that:
“In the interests of justice and in order to avoid human suffering, I order that the Petitioners herein be included in the Lang’ata/Kibera Roads Committee and be actively involved in the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for the Project Affected Persons (PAP). I order further that the 1st, 2nd and 5th Respondents shall not evict or demolish the houses belonging to the Petitioners until the agreed resettlement plan for the persons affected by the road project in question is put in place.”
Evictions must be carried out lawfully, only in exceptional circumstances, and in full accordance with relevant provisions of national law and international human rights and humanitarian law. This includes providing all potentially affected groups and person with relevant information, full consultation and participation throughout the entire process.
Section 22 (4) of The Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and Affected Communities Act, 2012 states that “The Government shall ensure that the displacement is carried out in manner that is respectful of the human rights of those affected, taking in particular into account the….. special needs of women, children and persons with special needs”. Section 22(5) states that “The Government shall ensure the presence of a Government official when the displacement and relocation is effected and the monitoring by an independent body”. Section 23 (2) c) provides that “No person shall intentionally cause harm to internally displaced persons”.
There is evidence showing that the ongoing demolitions have caused immense harm to the Kibera residents through disruption and destruction of their livelihoods. Further, the evictions are in breach of various provisions of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement which form part of the above Act under Schedule Two.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights therefore calls for an immediate cessation of the on-going demolitions and evictions in Kibera pending the finalization of the enumeration and relocation of affected persons. The government should urgently offer adequate humanitarian support to respond to the immediate needs of the affected people including shelter, food and clothing. The Commission has also learnt that similar evictions and demolitions are imminent in Deep Sea slums and Ngara (Nyayo Market) in Nairobi. The Commission calls on KURA and other government agencies to ensure that all future displacements across the country are done in line with the law and in compliance with Kenya’s national and international human rights obligations.
The Commission reminds all the concerned agencies and individuals of the consequences of violating the law and the human rights provisions in our Constitution. The Commission remains committed in helping the government agencies in the fulfilment of their human rights obligations to the Project Affected Persons.
Ms. Kagwiria Mbogori
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights