A case filed at the High Court in Kitale by 35 lawyers and a lobby group, seeking to stop the government from violating the rights if children caught up in the Mau Forest eviction order has been moved to the High Court in Narok.
Justice Mwangi Njoroge of the Environment and Lands Court in Kitale, on Wednesday directed that the case be moved to Narok for hearing by Justice Mohamed Gulo who is presiding over other similar petitions.
Six of the 35 lawyers – Moses Kurgat, Hillary Koech, Ms Amazon Koech, Cosmas Koech , Hillary Kiplangat and Ms Patricia May unsuccessfully tried to convince Justice Njoroge to issue orders against the government for allegedly trampling on the rights of children.
“The government has violated on the rights of the children in Mau area which is considered as a government forest, when indeed it is a private farmland previously held in trust by the Narok County Council and later the county government,” said Mr Kurgat while making the application.
The lawyers argued that the rights of the children were not an appendage to that of their parents, noting that the other two petitions pending in Narok had no relation with the new petition.
“The rights of the children to education, health, security and rights to family are explicit reasons that we have moved to court to seek the orders against the respondents. Children’s rights must take precedent against anything else as the law and the constitution protects them,” stated Mr Sigei while arguing the application.
The case was first placed before the constitutional and human rights division on August 15 this year where Justice John Mativo transferred the file to Environment and Lands Court where the following day, Justice Gacheru pushed the file to the Nakuru.
Since the judges were on vacation, the lawyers in the case were forced to file the case in Mombasa where Justice Silas Munyao directed on August 22, that the matter be heard on Wednesday in Kitale.
“This is one of the most travelled court file in the recent past without being told this morning that it had not been delivered at Kitale… We are glad eventually it arrived late in the morning for this case to proceed,” said Mr Kurgat.
“Children’s right to education is protected by the constitution, and with the state having admitted a day ago that the 15 schools would not be re-instated, we are seeking the backing of a court order on the matter. A remedy for this situation that would protect the child has to be put in place,” stated Mr Kurgat.
Mr Koech said that as per Article 62 (3) of the Constitution government forests are exclusively owned by the national government while the one for group ranches was held in trust for the group ranches by Narok county.
“The court should not shy away from making a landmark decision in respect to the children living with their families along the Mau forest. We are appealing to this court to make a distinct decision that addresses right of the vulnerable children,” stated Mr Koech
State Counsels – Oscar Eredi and Fatma Ali opposed the application saying two similar petitions were lying before the Narok and Narok High courts and it would not be prudent for Justice Njoroge to issue fresh orders
“The issue of conserving Mau forest and the two previous petitions cannot be separated from the case relating to the children as it relatives to land and environment matters,” stated Mr Eredi in his reply to the application.
He urged the court to dismiss the application saying it did not merit to be heard under a certificate of urgency and the prayers were not new to the Judiciary.
Justice Njoroge directed in his ruling that the applicants serves Narok County with the application and petition before September 10, when the matter will be placed before Justice Gulo for further direction.
“Since this application is intertwined with two petitions pending before the Environment and Lands Court in Narok, I direct that the file be placed before Justice Dulo on September 10, so he can make a decision as to whether or not to consolidate the files,” ordered Justice Njoroge.
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Publish date : 2019-09-05 07:43:47