The Housing and Land Rights (HLR) Mission to Kenya was in Nairobi from 6th to 11th March, 2000 to examine the housing and land rights situation in the country and assess the Kenya government's compliance with the international human rights obligations. The fact-finding mission was facilitated by the Housing and Land Rights Committee of the Habitat International Coalition (HIC) in response to a request by the Human Rights Monitoring Group (HURIMOG), constituted within the Kenya Human Rights Network. The group is committed to enhancing knowledge and action towards the realization of human dignity of those suffering deprivation, by advancing respect, promotion, protection and fulfilment of universal human rights, particularly economic, cultural and social rights.
The Mission received 21 oral and 20 written testimonies from urban and rural squatter communities as well as from the human and legal rights NGOs who work with these communities and who form HURIMOG. The Mission also visited three informal settlements in Nairobi, namely Mtumba vfflage, Soweto-Kahawa and Mathare to see at first hand conditions of life in Kenya city slums.
This report encompasses the highlights of the testimonies given to the Mission. These highlights are presented against the background of an overview of the economic and social situation in Kenya, which has been steadily deteriorating in the last decade, to the detriment of the poor majority of the country's population, and in a context of government indifference, callousness and corruption. And the highlights are presented within the context of the Kenya government's obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), of which Kenya is a signatory. The report, basing itself on the testimonies and first-hand witness of HURIMOG, then goes on to discuss the Kenya government's violations of the right to adequate housing under the following headings: Legal Security of Tenure, Availability of Services, Affordable Housing, Habitable Housing, Accessible Housing, Location and Culturally Adequate Housing. Under each heading, a brief extract of the relevant stipulations of the ICESCR is given.
This report, endorsing the findings of the Mission, shows that the land and housing situation is characterized by forced evictions, misallocation of public land and rampant land grabbing through bureaucratic and political corruption.
Kenya has, therefore, failed to meet the minimum core state obligations, namely its duty to show recognition and respect for rights accorded by the Covenant and to endeavour to protect those rights.
Finally the report makes recommendations with respect to what should be done:
(a) at the national level, including legal and economic reforms and administrative initiatives, all of which should aim at empowering the poor; and,
(b) how the international community, including foreign states, lending institutions and donor agencies, can assist Kenya to meet its obligations under the ICESCR in extending the right to adequate housing to all its citizens. International pressure is called for to make the Kenya government to start to live up to its obligations.
To the report is annexed, among other documents, the testimonies of the communities and NGOs, summaries of Kenyan laws relating to the right to adequate housing and the Concluding Observations on Kenya by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Kenya in June 1993.