On 12 March 2015, the European Parliament strongly condemned Tanzania’s government for land grabbing, evictions and violence against its Maasai people. This follows on from the November 2014 tweet sent by Tanzania’s President Kikwete saying that his government was dropping plans to sell 1,500 square kilometres of Maasai land to a private Emirati hunting and safari company, the Ortello Business Corporation (OBC), which wanted it for big game hunting. OBC’s clients reportedly include the Jordanian royal family and the UK’s Prince Andrew.
Despite this pledge, evictions have continued: more than 3,000 Maasai were recently left homeless after 200 houses were destroyed and livestock confiscated by the Tanazanian authorities.
Land-grabbing is a long-standing global injustice (FW 203, FW 200, FW 195, FW 193, FW 192, FW 181, FW 167), and the attention that the MEPs are devoting to it is welcome. In their resolution, MEPs called on the European Commission to “ensure the alignment of its land policy guidelines,” “strengthen capacity-building of courts in developing countries to enforce property law effectively,” and reiterated that “human rights and the rules prohibiting land grabbing should be mainstreamed in the EU’s trade and investment agreements.” It is now up to the EU institutions to back these words with action.