The High Court has delivered a landmark ruling stopping the Government from forceful eviction of families.

Lady Justice Hedwig Ong’udi, sitting in Embu, ordered the State to reconstruct houses of 1,123 families in Garissa that it recently demolished unconstitutionally.

She further ordered, in a judicial decree, that the Government further pays Sh200,000 as damages, to the affected families.

The judgment delivered on January 27 has now set judicial precedence on the recent wave of demolition of homes was mainly informed by fundamental rights under the new Constitution.

It followed a case in which the State demolished homes of 1,123 residents of Bularik, Bula Medina, Sagarai, Naima, Bulla Nasal and Gesto within Garissa Municipality.

The orders were directed to the Minister for State, Provincial Administration and Internal Security, Minister for Lands, Attorney General and Garissa Municipality.

The ministries and Local Government were the respondents in the suit.

The residents had occupied the land since 1940s as grazing land but put up permanent and semi-permanent houses in the 1980s.

During early 2010, armed police officers kept vigil as the homes were reduced to debris for allegedly sitting on Government land.

The High Court heard that a district commissioner in Garissa supervised the mass demolitions that grossly undermined rights of the affected families.

Garissa resident Ibrahim Sangor Osman and civil societies including, Hakijamii (Economic and Social Rights Centre), moved to court over the evictions.

Others were Socio-Economic Rights Institute, Community Law Centre and Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation.

Lady Justice Ong’udi, sitting in Embu, ordered the State to reconstruct the flattened houses with all amenities and schools in the area before demolitions.

“The affected residents must all return to the land where they were evicted… there shall be no future evictions unless the law is followed,” Justice Ong’udi ordered.

By HAROLD AYODO, The Standard

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