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January 24, 2019

State should respect the law in demolitions — lawyers NGO

ICJ-Kenya executive director Samwel Mohochi and
chairman Kelvin Mogeni address a press conference
in Nairobi. /FILE
ICJ-Kenya executive director Samwel Mohochi and chairman Kelvin Mogeni address a press conference in Nairobi. /FILE

An international lawyers’ organisation has condemned the way the government is demolishing structures on riparian land and road reserves.

The demolitions are no longer in the public interest as they are carried out “with impunity and in total disregard of the law and human rights,” International Commission of Jurists chairman Kelvin Mogeni said.

Mogeni dismissed the demolitions as a knee-jerk reaction, an ambush and flagrant disregard of court orders.

The crackdown on buildings failed to continue yesterday. Julius Wanjau, who is in charge of the operations, said the heavy machines they are using to pull down the structures were taken to the NYS garage for repair.

The demolition team was supposed to start flattening the twin South End Mall – which it partially pulled down two weeks ago – yesterday.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, Mogeni said as much as ICJ-Kenya supports the government’s efforts to repossess grabbed public land, it condemns the violations of court orders and human rights by the multi-agency team undertaking the operation.

“Unilateral actions on the basis of mere allegations are primitive and anarchic and only undermine the rule of law and could create mayhem,” he said.

Mogeni said the state should follow due process informed by policies and implementation of previous reports in dealing with the land question.

He urged the government to implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report, the Ndung’u Report, the report of Prime Minister’s task force on the conservation of the Mau Forest and others.

“We are calling upon the leader of Majority in the National Assembly to table the TJRC report for deliberation by Parliament to pave way for its implementation,” he said.

Mogeni threatened to go to court to compel the government to implement the reports fully to address historical land injustices.

He urged the DPP to order prosecution of government officials who approved construction on public land or allocated property to private entities.

At least four high-end buildings have been demolished in the city for standing on riparian reserves. They are South End Mall on Langata Road, Ukay Centre in Westlands, part of Oshwal Centre and a Java outlet in Kileleshwa. The demolition targets 4, 000 structures in the city.

The aim is to reclaim Nairobi River and its tributaries. The river has been threatened by encroachment and dumping. Several homes have also been demolished in Kibera and other informal settlements to pave way for construction of roads. ICJ secretary general Samuel Mahochi said that the government would not succeed in repossessing grabbed public land if it does not implement crucial reports.

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