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By Harold Ayodo

Can judiciary enforce property rights?

By Harold Ayodo

A recent order by the High Court stopping eviction of 1,112 residents of Garissa County from their homes raises eyebrows. The landmark ruling by Justice Mohammed Warsame could join the list of similar global orders where courts issue orders to governments against private property. To refresh memories, Hakijamii � an Economics and Social Rights Centre, as a matter of public interest assisted the marginalised families to stop the evictions in court.

Hakijamii engaged Mbugua Mureithi and Company Advocates to agitate for the rights of families in Bularik, Bula Medina, Sagarai, Naima, Bulla Nasai and Gesto in Garissa.

Justice Warsame issued temporary orders stopping the evictions or demolitions of houses without a court order or mutually agreed alternative accommodation.

He further ordered the State to provide the residents with food, clean drinking water, sanitary facilities and health care.

The orders were to the ministers for Internal Security and Lands, the Attorney General and Municipal Council of Garissa.

However, as the residents of Garissa the Municipality enjoy a temporary reprieve, many judgments on economic and social rights remain unimplemented.


Meanwhile, hundreds of residents of Mjini Estate in Mumias are homeless following demolitions last week by the State.

According to media reports, District Commissioner Francis Komen had issued the residents with a one-month eviction notice. Later, a contingent of Administration Policemen, led by Mumias District Officer George Lugo, supervised the demolition.

According to Komen, the houses were on government property and the illegal encroachment threatened establishment of government institutions. The evictees denied having been served with a notice to quit.

Consequently, the question on most legal minds is what happens after a court issues a ruling that is favourable to the cause of economic and social rights?

It is for similar reasons that many cases are pending in court following forced government evictions and demolitions despite orders stopping the acts.

Generally, lack of implementation of judicial orders affect directly and most prominently the victims of such acts.

It also challenges the relevance and impact of human rights law as a useful framework for ensuring economic and social justice.

The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.