Speech by the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Mr. Miloon Kothari, of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

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Nairobi 21 February 2004


        Evictions and Demolitions


I am aware of the ongoing demolition of structures, including houses, and forced evictions currently taking place in Nairobi involving Government ministries. I understand that the Government soon also intends to initiate the removal of people inhabiting forest lands.


I am seriously concerned that the Government is not following an adequate procedure keeping in mind the human rights of those affected by these evictions, thereby impacting on many innocent families and individuals. I urge the Government to comply with the procedures stipulated by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its General Comment no 7 on the right to adequate housing: forced evictions (1997), which states:


11. Whereas some evictions may be justifiable, such as in the case of persistent non-payment of rent or of damage to rented property without any reasonable cause, it is incumbent upon the relevant authorities to ensure that they are carried out in a manner warranted by a law which is compatible with the Covenant and that all the recourses and remedies are available to those affected.


13. States parties shall ensure, prior to carrying out any evictions, and particularly those involving large groups, that all feasible alternatives are explored in consultation with the affected persons, with a view to avoiding, or at least minimizing, the need to use force. Legal remedies or procedures should be provided to those who are affected by eviction orders [].


15. Appropriate procedural protection and due process are essential aspects of all human rights but are especially pertinent in relation to a matter such as forced evictions which directly invokes a large number of the rights recognized in both the International Covenants on Human Rights. The Committee considers that the procedural protections which should be applied in relation to forced evictions include: (a) an opportunity for genuine consultation with those affected; (b) adequate and reasonable notice for all affected persons prior to the scheduled date of eviction: (c) information on the proposed evictions, and, where applicable, on the alternative purpose for which the land or housing is to be used, to be made available in reasonable time to all those affected; (d) especially where groups of people are involved, government officials or their representatives to be present during an eviction; (e) all persons carrying out an eviction to be properly identified; (f) evictions not to take place in particularly bad weather or at night unless the affected persons consent otherwise; (g) provision of legal remedies; and (h) provision, where possible, of legal aid to persons who are in need of it to seek redress from the courts.


16. Evictions should not result in individuals being rendered homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights. Where those affected are unable to provide for themselves, the State party must take all appropriate measures, to the maximum of its available resources, to ensure that adequate alternative housing, resettlement or access to productive land, as the case may be, is available. 



In the current practice the authorities have only focused on prior notice, which in itself is an inadequate measure in accordance with the procedure outlined above. I have not been made aware of any attempts has been made by the authorities to identify, protect and provide redress for the innocent caught in the demolition of houses, which also include people from the poorest segments of the society.


The Government should immediately put this procedure into operation, called for under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which has been ratified by Kenya. Meanwhile, there should be a moratorium placed on demolitions and evictions. In addition, and the local administration and authorities must refrain from aggravating the situation by further participating in malpractices that have contributed to this crisis. 


The current arbitrary practice has created a great deal of insecurity amongst poor Kenyans, including internally displaced people, forest dwellers, including indigenous peoples such as the Ogeik, and slum dwellers. This is affecting the credibility of the Government in the eyes of its own people and of the international community.