August 23, 2015
An ongoing dispute over 2,300 acres of land in Segera, Laikipia County, Kenya has the Maasai people facing violent abuse and other human rights violations. The Maasai community were told that the land had been purchased by North Tetu Cooperative Society and that they had to evacuate. When the Maasai protested, the police and employees of the land reacted violently. One man, Joel Partalala Ole Ntayia, was beaten and drowned by police and employees while his ten year old son watched nearby. Another man, Karisa Lesakut, was beaten and arrested by police while at home and had to pay both his bail and medical expenses.
In addition, there have been reports of police abusing women and children and looting the Maasai’s property. In a personal account, one Maasai describes the situation: “We are called squatters in our own land. We are beaten up and robbed and there is nothing that we can do about it… I have never seen a government behaving this way. It made promises to solve the matter but instead sent us the police.” Another woman, Ntisi Kaparo, says that, “every woman worries every day [about] the arrests and beatings. We worry that our children, young men and husbands will not come home by the end of the day. We are hungry because men no longer come home in fear of being arrested.” It is clear that the Maasai live in fear of assault from police and that action must be taken to protect the community.
A report by Eng’ape E Maa Association provided several recommendations, which include :
Bringing Joel Partalala Ole Ntaiyia’s murderer to justice.
Securing Maasai freedom to gather and discuss their issues freely.
Investigating the human rights abuses and the damages to property committed by the police and employees.
Stopping the harassment of the Maasai people.
Providing clear information on the ownership of the land and how it has changed hands over time.
Identifying other possible problematic areas where communities do not have proper land titles to the land they live on to avoid future conflicts.