This month marks the fifth anniversary of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) landmark judgment in the Ogiek case.5 years ago, the Ogiek people of Kenya won a ground-breaking court case at the African Court for Human and Peoples Rights.
On 26 May 2017, the Court ruled that by routinely subjecting the Ogiek to arbitrary forced evictions from their ancestral lands in the Mau forest, the government of Kenya had violated seven separate articles of the African Charter, including their right to property, natural resources, development, religion, culture, and non-discrimination. Crucially, the Court recognized that the Ogiek are an indigenous people and have a critical role to play in safeguarding their local ecosystems and in conserving and protecting their ancestral lands and natural resources. The Court specifically found that conservation of the Mau forest could not be used to justify the Ogiek’s eviction.
Marking the Ogiek Day celebrations on Thursday, Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program Executive Director Daniel Kobei said despite the landmark win five years ago, the problems they faced have not ended.“For instance, in 2020, those living in the East Mau areas were evicted amidst the Covid-19 pandemic,” Kobei said in a statement.
He reiterated that the Ogiek community wants to be included in all discussions and decisions on Mau forest, which he said is their ancestral home.
In the eight-year battle, the community through the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP), Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE), and Minority Rights Group International (MRG) accused the government of violations of the right to life, property, natural resources, development, religion, culture and non-discrimination under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In its first-ever of such cases, the court found the Kenyan government had violated various articles of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, including denial of Ogiek land rights and their religious and cultural and hunter-gather practices.