The Government of Kenya is facing the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights, in Arusha, Tanzania as the court will deliver judgement in a long-awaited case brought before it, by the Ogiek indigenous peoples for consistent violations and denial of their land rights.
Judgement will be delivered on Friday May 26.
“This case is of fundamental importance for indigenous peoples in Africa, and particularly in the context of the continent-wide conflicts we are seeing between communities, sparked by pressures over land and resources,” Ms Lucy Claridge, Minority Rights Group International’s (MRG) Legal Director stated in Arusha.
“Ultimately the Court will be ruling on the crucial role of indigenous peoples in the conservation of land and natural resources, and consequently, the mitigation of climate change in a region currently ravaged by drought and famine”. She said.
The Ogiek indigenous people, of whom 35,000 are the victims in this landmark case, live in the Manu Forest Complex in the Rift Valley of Kenya.
Ogiek are one of the last remaining forest-dwelling communities and among the most marginalised indigenous peoples in Kenya.
In their statement of claim, the Ogiek alleged the violations of their rights to life, property, natural resources, development, religion and culture by the Kenyan government under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Kenya is a signatory.
This is the first time the African Court, in operation since 2006, will rule on an indigenous peoples’ rights case and is by far the largest ever case brought before the Court.
The MRG, Ogiek Peoples’ Development Programme (OPDP) and CEMIRIDE were the three original Complainants before the African Commission.
Mr. Daniel Kobei, Executive Director of OPDP commented that the judgment will be a huge milestone for the Ogiek community.
“We are optimistic that it will be positive, and crucially, that it will be respected by the Kenyan government, including implementation, so that Ogiek can feel complete and enjoy all the basic rights like every other Kenyan”. He noted