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Victory for Kenya’s Ogiek as African Court sets major precedent for indigenous peoples’ land rights

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African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v the Republic of Kenya

In May 2017, the Ogiek indigenous community of Kenya successfully challenged the denial of their land rights before the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights (‘the Court’). Following an eight-year legal battle, the Court found that the Kenyan government violated seven separate articles of the African Charter in a land rights case that dates back to colonial times.

This landmark ruling recognised that the Ogiek – and therefore many other indigenous peoples in Africa – have a leading role to play as guardians of local ecosystems, and in conserving and protecting land and natural resources. This briefing sets out a brief history of the case, the key arguments of the Ogiek and the Kenyan Government’s response, and provides an analysis of the Court’s judgement. The briefing also places the ruling in context and looks at the wider impact beyond Kenya.

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