400 Families

What is affected
Housing private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 15 May 2013
Region AFA [ Africa anglophone ]
Country Kenya
Location City Cotton, Nairobi

Affected persons

Total 400
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Development afr320052013en.pdf

Forced eviction
Housing losses
- Number of homes 400
- Total value €

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Interntl org.
Brief narrative

Some 400 Kenyan families were forcibly evicted on 10 May from an informal settlement in the capital, Nairobi. They are homeless and in urgent need of food, water and shelter. Police, who were providing security for the eviction, used live ammunition and teargas.

Nearly 400 homes were destroyed in a forced eviction carried out at City Carton (also known as City Cotton) in Nairobi West, in the Kenyan capital, after the settlement was cordoned off by 170 police officers between 4 and 5 am on 10 May. Residents were woken by groups of young men who burst into their homes and forced them out before demolishing the informal settlement using crowbars and sledgehammers. This happened during the rainy season, when temperatures can drop to 10C and there can be heavy rain at night.

The District Commissioner denied any knowledge of the eviction. Senior police officers told Amnesty International the demolitions had been carried out by young men hired by the owners of the City Carton land. The police officers also said they had provided security for the eviction on the orders of the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi. The police fired live ammunition – residents reported at least five gunshots and showed Amnesty International two cartridge cases found in the rubble – and at least five teargas canisters during the operation.

City Carton residents had been given no opportunity to engage in any consultation with the authorities. Rumours of a possible eviction had spread in the settlement but no notice was given to them, despite attempts by some residents to find out about a possible eviction from the local authorities. They were therefore unprepared. Most Carton City residents interviewed reported looting and theft by the men who demolished their homes; the local Chief Inspector acknowledged that over 150 residents had made complaints. Some residents were also beaten. By late morning the police and those carrying out the eviction had retreated, and many residents returned to what remained of their homes. Most of those forcibly evicted were now homeless, and told Amnesty International that they feared the police and young men would return to flatten the settlement entirely and fence off the area.

The City Carton settlement, established in 1966, is one of the smaller informal settlements in Nairobi. There are approximately 144 informal settlements in Nairobi which are home to at least 2 million people.

Article 43 of the Kenyan Constitution recognizes the right to adequate housing. Courts in Kenya have clarified in three different cases that the constitutional right to housing includes the right not to be forcibly evicted.

Kenya is obliged under a range of human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to refrain from and prevent forced evictions.

As a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Kenyan government is obliged to respect, protect and fulfill the right to adequate housing. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has emphasized that evictions may be carried out only as a last resort, once all other feasible alternatives have been explored. Forced evictions are prohibited. Even when an eviction is considered to be justified, it can only be carried out when appropriate procedural protections are in place, including consultation with those affected, notice of eviction, adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses prior to the eviction, regardless of whether they rent, own, occupy or lease the land or housing in question. Evictions must also not render anyone homeless. The prohibition on forced evictions includes those carried out by private third parties.

International human rights monitoring bodies and Kenyan NGOs have repeatedly highlighted concerns about forced evictions and threats of mass forced evictions in Kenya. Among those who often suffer the most are women and children. At City Carton, one woman told Amnesty International that the young men came into her house and tried to get her to undress. Twenty-one-year-old Mariam said that her seven-month-old child became sick and had to be taken to a nearby hospital after a teargas canister was fired close to them.

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