Background

WE the representatives of diverse and impacted communities in Laikipia County, Kenya converging at the Kenya Human Rights Commission on the 21st day of September 2021;

HAVING mutually and peacefully co-existed within the area for decades;

DEEPLY CONCERNED about the current developments in Laikipia County whose root causes mainly point to Historical Land Injustices and manifesting in gross violations of Human Rights hereunder:

Manifestations of Historical Land Injustices.

These include but not limited to:

  • Retrogressive colonial and post-independence policies and practices on land and resource governance
  • Few privileged elite have unjustly amassed huge tracts of land denying local communities land rights.
  • Limited access to pasture, water for livestock and human consumption.
  • Grabbing of public land including ADC farms; privatization and closure of public roads, stock routes and holding grounds; which are meant to facilitate movement within the area.
  • Human-wildlife conflict due to competition over resources for both animal and human use.
  • Conflict between the pastoral and farming communities owing to different land use practices.
  • Absentee land owners who possess huge tracts of unutilised land at the expense of the local landless communities.
  • A growing population against an increasingly dispossessed community.
  • Opaque land dealings and lack of a county land register that undermine openness on the status of land ownership.
  • Non action by the Ministry of Lands and National Land Commission on leases that have since expired which denies the community opportunity for dialogue on land ownership.
  • Privatisation of community land thus denying indigenous communities access to land based resources from conservancies.

Manifestations of Systemic and Gross Human Rights Violations linked to the above mentioned land injustices

  • Arbitrary arrests, incessant trumped up charges and hefty fines as a form of repression to silence voices condemning land injustices.
  • Systemic marginalization and atrocious treatment as manifesting in;
    1. limited access to social amenities in select communities like roads, schools, and health facilities;
    2. Punitive vetting of select communities for issuance of identification cards (IDs);
    3. Structural profiling and labelling of some communities as invaders, raiders, criminals and bandits.
    4. Selective arming of the communities thus exacerbating suspicions and violence.
    5. Collective punishment targeting select communities in the event one of them is on the wrong side of the law.
    6. Political underrepresentation in electoral positions.
    7. Divisive and exclusionist approaches by the local administration to ostensibly address outstanding community concerns.
    8. Failure to appreciate and embrace the diverse social and economic lifestyles of the different communities.
    9. Abductions, extra judicial executions and enforced disappearances particularly to the pastoral communities.
    10. Alleged incitement of communities against each other.
    11. Inadequate response and compensation in the event locals are injured or property is destroyed by wild animals as preference is given to wildlife over human life.
    12. Perpetual limitation of fundamental rights and freedoms including freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, right to own property among others.

Despite all these, there has been general failure by successive regimes to fully address the above root causes and manifestations even after initiating truth telling, investigative commissions and independent offices. It is the reason we are facing the current NATIONAL CRISIS which has led to abominable loss of lives, livelihoods, livestock and properties; unprecedented injuries, abductions, and displacements. It is from the foregoing that we DEMAND AS FOLLOWS;

  • The National Land Commission initiate investigations on the above-mentioned land injustices within the next one week.
  • The National Assembly and the Senate responsible committees for land affairs lead a bicameral fact-finding mission on the above cross-cutting issues within one week. That would include involvement of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) and Security and Administration Committee.
  • The National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to immediately initiate joint inquiry into the above mentioned issues within one week.
  • The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to resolve and provide adequate remedies to the question of human wildlife conflict.
  •  The National Registration Bureau (NRB) to stop and resolve punitive vetting of communities.
  • The Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) to investigate the conduct of criminal justice actors in Laikipia County for swift remedial action.

In conclusion, we urge the communities to continue observing peace and respecting rights for all.

Date: 21st September 2021

Signed by:

Kenya Human Rights Commission and Laikipia impacted communities.