EAC court starts hearing Mau Forest eviction payout case


East African Court of Justice President Nestor Kayobera. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has started hearing a case in which Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony has sued the government of Kenya over eviction of residents from Mau Forest.

The case, which was filed in 2018 by Prof Chepkwony at the Arusha based court, wants the government of Kenya to compensate thousands of victims, whom he says were unlawfully evicted from their ancestral land.

He further alleges that the eviction forced more than 5,000 pupils out of schools withour any measures to support the their education.

In the case, where he has sued the Attorney-General, the governor claims the residents were tortured and their homes burnt down without compensation.

Last week, the first witness Godfrey Kipchirichiri Sanga, who was working on a book on history of Mau Forest at the time when the evictions took place in August 2018, appeared in court virtually from Nairobi.

Other three witnesses will also be produced for further evidence this week.

The Kenyan government has denied all the allegations arguing that reference made disclose no cause of action against the Republic of Kenya or its officers and facts pleaded by the applicant are not only unfounded but also do not constitute any of the matters contemplated under Article 30(1) of the EAC Treaty.

“…denies that the government of Kenya through its security organs carried out the alleged forceful evictions, rape, physical torture, destruction of property and homes, violated rights of children and acted contrary to the due process of law and in contravention of the Treaty,” said the government in its submission.

The government said that it followed all the due process of law to remove illegal encroachments into the forest to contain destruction and no eviction done on land adjacent to the forest as alleged.

“The process was carried out in a human and lawful manner following public consultations and adequate notices issued beforehand which were obeyed by the evictees who returned to their original homes and not residing in any displaced camps,” it said.