Indigenous Ogiek in Kenya eagerly anticipate reparations judgement
The quest for justice for the Ogiek people continues. On Thursday 23 June 2022, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights will deliver a reparations judgement in the final act of a long running case.
The Ogiek community has been eagerly waiting for this day since the Court ruled in 2017 that the Kenyan government had violated their rights as guaranteed by the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In the historic judgement, the Court ruled that the Kenyan government had violated seven different articles under the charter — including the rights to life, property, freedom from discrimination, culture, freely dispose of wealth and natural resources and development.
The Court then declared that it would rule on the issue of reparations separately at a later date.
Daniel Kobei, Executive Director of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP) is anticipating the judgement. OPDP is an indigenous-led organization working to secure the rights of the Ogiek and other marginalized indigenous communities in Kenya.
‘We expect the reparation judgement to cement the 26 May 2017 landmark judgement by upholding the rights of the Ogiek community with absolute surety over their ancestral land in Mau Complex. We are set for another major celebration coupled with ululations immediately after the judgement,’ he says.
‘We indeed feel this will henceforth minimize litigation processes and costs attached to it and allow the Ogiek community to engage in economic and social development.’
‘The Ogiek have been waiting far too long for the meaningful implementation of the Court’s 2017 judgment,’ says Samuel Ade Ndasi, Africa Union Advocacy Officer at Minority Rights Group. ‘The time is now. We hope that this reparations judgment will vindicate the community’s long struggle.
The Ogiek are one of the most marginalized indigenous communities in Kenya. The hunter-gatherer community’s ancestral home is in the Mau Forest in the Rift Valley and the forests of Mount Elgon. The community has over the decades suffered forced evictions from their ancestral lands by Kenyan authorities, disrupting their traditional livelihoods.
In 2009, the Kenya Forestry Service prepared for another round of evictions. Having had enough of the forceful evictions, the community, spearheaded by OPDP, decided to take action. Joining hands with the Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE), Minority Rights Group International (MRG) petitioned the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Commission). That marked the beginning of a protracted legal challenge which eventually culminated into the 2017 ruling.
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Photo: Ogiek peoples celebrating their victory in Mau Forest, Kenya, May 2018. Credit: Lucy Claridge / MRG.