Kenyan Task Force formed to implement the 2010 Endorois ruling

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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) welcomes the formation by the Government of Kenya of a new task force dedicated to implementation* of the 2010 African Commission ruling which recognised the Endorois’ rights over their ancestral land in and around Lake Bogoria in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

The task force will be addressing restitution of the land to the Endorois, compensation for losses due to their eviction, and benefit-sharing of royalties derived from lucrative bioenzymes and rubies found on the land.  However, whilst it may “solicit, receive and consider views from members of the public and other interest groups,” it does not require consultation with the Endorois community nor is there an Endorois representative member of the task force.  Such steps need to be taken to ensure the ruling is appropriately implemented.

The landmark February 2010 ruling set a critical precedent that indigenous populations in Africa are legally entitled to collective ownership of their ancestral lands, and was much-heralded by advocates of indigenous rights. Unfortunately, for nearly five years following the ruling there has been little progress towards implementation, despite intensive lobbying for action by the Endorois Welfare Council, the Endorois’ representative body, and calls for implementation by the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights.

On Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the creation of a new task force which will be concerned solely with implementation of the ruling. The task force will be chaired by the Solicitor-General, and its members include the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Sports, Culture, and the Arts, the Secretary to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and the County Secretary of Baringo County.

The details of the task force were published in the Kenya Gazette, and instruct that the task force must “every three months, prepare and submit to the President reports of its progress,” “propose interim recommendations to the President within six months,” and “submit a final report and make final recommendations within one year.”

The Endorois are pleased to learn of the task force but voice concern that it must be made meaningful and relevant to achieve progress. “This is a great opportunity for the Endorois and constitutes the greatest signal yet on the part of the government that it is willing to take substantive steps on this issue,” says Wilson Kipkazi of the Endorois Welfare Council. “In order for the task force to implement the ruling appropriately, the Endorois will continue to push for representation and consultation on all decisions made regarding their rights”, he added.

“The formation of the task force is a positive step taken by the Government of Kenya,” added Lucy Claridge, MRG’s Head of Law.  “We look forward to further news on the Endorois’ role and significant engagement with the Government in this long-awaited process.”

Notes to editors

  • Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is the leading international human rights organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples. We work with more than 150 partners in over 50 countries.
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*As of November 2020, the web page previously linked to here seems to have been permanently removed.

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