Kenya: Activists blame EU after indigenous herder is killed during forced eviction for climate change project
The European Union has been accused of a fatally slow response to human rights warnings after the killing of an indigenous man at one of the projects it funds. The herder was reportedly shot by the Kenya Forest Service during a forced eviction for the EU-funded €31m water conservation project in the Mount Elgon and Cherangani Hills.
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Activists blame EU for ignoring human rights warnings leading to killing of an indigenous herder; EU suspends funding
Author: Jonathan Watts, The Guardian
"Kenya forest death: activists blame EU for ignoring human rights warnings", 19 Jan 2018
The European Union has been accused of a fatally slow response to human rights warnings after the killing of an indigenous man at one of the projects it funds in Kenya. Robert Kirotich of the Sengwer – one of the country’s last forest peoples – was reportedly shot by the Kenya Forest Service during a forced eviction for the EU-funded €31m water conservation project in the Mount Elgon and Cherangani Hills.
Members of his community said the forestry guards sprayed bullets at a group of 15 men who had been herding cattle in Kapkot Glade. The attackers reportedly burned homes, injured another man – David Kipkosgei Kiptilkesi – and killed Kirotich. “We have been trying all along to avoid such a bad situation, but the European Union and the government have ignored our cries,” Sengwer activist Elias Kimaiyo wrote in an email to the Forest Protection Programme NGO. Stefano Dejak, the EU ambassador to Kenya, has condemned the killing and followed through on a warning to the Kenyan government that the use of force would result in a suspension of funding. The project will only resume “if guarantees are provided that it benefits and respects all Kenyans, indigenous communities included,” Dejak told the Guardian.
"EU suspends Kenya water conservation funding after tribesman killed"
The European Union has shelved a 3.6 billion shilling ($35 million) water conservation assistance scheme to Kenya after forest guards killed a member of a community indigenous to one of the forests involved in the project...Stefano Dejak, the EU ambassador to Kenya, said...[the] killing of the man, and the shooting of another, in Embobut forest in the west of the country, came after the bloc had told the government it would reconsider financial support if the use of force against innocent locals persisted.
Author: Forest Peoples Programme
"Indigenous Sengwer man shot and killed by EU-funded guards"
41-year-old Robert Kirotich has today been shot by EU-funded guards working for the Kenya Forestry Service. Another wounded man, David Kipkosgei Kiptilkesi was taken away by the guards and his condition unknown.
At 2pm today, Robert Kirotich was herding cattle in Kapkok Glade, in the Embobut Forest area of the Cherangany Hills in west Kenya when he was attacked by a group of around 40 guards working for the Kenya Forestry Service (KFS). He was shot and killed and his body was retrieved by community members at 6.30pm today. On Christmas Day, guards employed by the KFS entered Sengwer lands and forcibly evicted them, supposedly in the name of conservation. After evicting them, they set fire to their homes. The violence was one of many forced evictions that the community has endured and they have continued, on 29 December, 1 January, and right up to today. On January 4, the Sengwer held a press conference, calling for change for the new year.
Kenya: UN experts call for respect of indigenous peoples' rights in implementing EU-funded climate change mitigation project
Author: John H. Knox, Michel Forst & Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (UN Special Rapporteurs)
“Indigenous rights must be respected during Kenya climate change project, say UN experts"
Three independent experts* appointed by the UN have expressed concerns about recent reports that indigenous Sengwer peoples in western Kenya have been attacked and forcibly evicted from their homes as a result of the implementation of the Water Towers Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation project, an EU-funded water management project.
“The Sengwer are facing repeated attacks and forced evictions by agents of the Kenya Forest Service, which is an implementing agency in the project financed by the European Union,” the experts said. On 25 December 2017, more than 100 armed Forest Service guards entered the traditional lands of the Sengwer in the Embobut Forest, firing gunshots, burning at least 15 homes and killing their livestock. On 9 January 2018, one of the Sengwer leaders, was shot at by Forest Service Service guards. While he managed to escape unhurt, his house was burnt down and his property destroyed.
The experts called on Kenya and the European Union to ensure that the human rights of the Sengwer peoples are respected. “We are concerned that the project is being undertaken without a human rights impact assessment,” the experts said. “Consultations have not been held with the Sengwer to seek their free, prior and informed consent. “We call on the Kenyan authorities to urgently halt the evictions of the Sengwer community and undertake impartial investigations of these attacks. Furthermore, we urge the European Union to suspend funding for the project until measures have been taken to uphold international standards on indigenous peoples’ rights.”
In June 2016, the EU and the Kenyan government launched the Water Towers Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation (WaTER) project worth some €31 million.
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- Related in-depth areas: Climate change Land Rights & Displacements