‘Ogiek Peoples Development Programme’
representative from one of First
Peoples’ grantee organizations,
the Ogiek Peoples Development Programme,
was invited to speak at a side-event to the 12th session of the United
Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
(UNPFII). The event was hosted by the International Land Coalition
on May 23 at the headquarters of the United
Nations Development Programme
Kiplangat Cheruyot spoke about the problem of government
evictions of the Ogiek
in Kenya. The event, titled “Whose Territory? Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
to Land, Territories, and Resources in the Frame of Increasing Commercial
Pressures for Natural Resources,” also featured representatives from the
UNPFII, the International
Working Group on Indigenous Affairs,
and the Sarstoon
Temash Institute for Indigenous Management
(SATIIM), another of First Peoples’ grantees.
Cheruyot explained at the event, “ever since colonial times there have been
attempts to evict the Ogiek from their ancestral land, usually on the pretext
that they are degrading the forest. In 1977 to date, frequent threats,
evictions, and displacement has been witnessed in Ogiek ancestral territories.
This has resulted in increased poverty, illiteracy leading to loss of hope.
But when the Ogiek are removed, their forest is not protected but rather
exploited by logging and tea plantations – some owned by government
officials. This influx of illegal settlers has been so extreme in recent years
that much of the Mau forest is severely degraded that has interfered with
Ogiek traditional ways.”
light of the fact that the Kenyan courts have failed to “afford justice or
even a full hearing” to the complaints of the Ogiek, Cheruyot delivered a
series of appeals to the UNPFII. Furthermore, Cheruyot pointed out the flaws
in the United Nations Environment Programme, which has attempted to preserve
the Mau forest but, focusing more on “forest cover than human rights,” and
has not received Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) to the Ogiek people.
find Cheruyot’s full statement below.
Made before 12th Session of the United Nation Permanent Forum
on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)
May 20th – 31st 2013, UN Plaza, New York
also congratulate you for being elected as the Chair of this 12th
Session. In my statement today, and acknowledges the American Jewish Worldwide
Services (AJWS) and IWGIA for supporting my participation. I would like to
share with this forum how new ‘conservation’ measures has threaten
Kenya’s Ogiek tribe with eviction from their ancestral home despite African
Court’s Order, from Arusha
Ogiek are hunter-gatherers living in Mau Forest – some in the deep forest
live purely by hunting and gathering. They have traditionally hunted such
animals as antelope, gazelle, and birds which is now generally illegal under
the current Kenya Wildlife Act.
since colonial times there have been attempts to evict the Ogiek from their
ancestral land, usually on the pretext that they are degrading the forest. In
1977 to date, frequent threats, evictions and displacement has been witnessed
in Ogiek ancestral territories. This has resulted to increased poverty,
illiteracy leading to lost of hope.
when the Ogiek are removed, their forest is not protected but rather exploited
by logging and tea plantations – some owned by government officials.
influx of illegal settlers has been so extreme in recent years that much of
the Mau forest is severely degraded that has interfered with Ogiek traditional
dispossession of their ancestral lands in the Mau Forest and Mt. Elgon’s
environs dates back to Colonial times. The colonial government sanctioned a
series of efforts to dispossess them of their land, assimilate, and impoverish
them through constant evictions and disruptions of their traditional lifestyle.
time, the Ogiek have resorted to the courts to attempt to stop the loss and
degradation of their ancestral lands. Time and again the Ogiek have sought
judicial assistance to stop illegal takings, government excisions of the
protected areas of Mau forest, and irregular allocations of forest lands to
non-Ogiek. Time and again the justice system has failed to grant the Ogiek
relief or the Kenyan Government has ignored the court’s rulings protecting
the Ogiek’s right to their lands.
a result of the failure of the Kenyan courts to afford justice or even a full
hearing for the Ogiek’s claims, the community determined to move their
search for justice to the regional level. The community alleges
violations of Articles 2 (right to non-discrimination), 4 (right to life), 8
(right to religion), 14 (right to property), 17 (right to culture), 21(right
to free disposition of natural resources) and 22 (right to development) of the
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The community submitted a
communication to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in
2009. The African Commission determined that because the Ogiek had made every
attempt to seek resolution of their claims in domestic court, but that the
Kenyan judicial system had failed to offer any hearing or reasonable remedy
for the Ogiek situation, the Ogiek could pursue their claims through the
barrier to realization of Indigenous Ogiek rights is United Nation
Environmental Programmes (UNEP). UNEP funding have been more of restoration of
forest cover than human rights promotion and protection. This has been
detrimental to the Ogiek community as no effort of consultations including
observation of free prior informed consent (FPIC) has been agreed upon in
safeguarding the Mau Forest, as there is lack of Indigenous People policy
paper to be discussed upon.
the Ogiek are evicted from their forest home it could spell disaster for the
forest and for the Ogiek, who will become ‘Conservation refugees’.
should move faster and emphasize that Kenya government should develop its own
guidelines before evictions that salutes the UN declaration on the rights of
IPs and the World Bank Policy on Indigenous issues.
to write to the African Court to determine the hearing of the Ogiek Vs
Republic of Kenya case in the quickest way possible as land speculators are
busy acquiring title from Ministries of land, which is court contempt.
government be recommended to implement the reports by UN special rappotour of
land and housing 2004, and UN rappotour on Indigenous Issues 2006.
to urge UNEP leadership in Nairobi to demand for respect to UNDRIP and ask for
immediate development of UNEP Indigenous Peoples Policy paper that will
safeguard the rights, interest and values of forest dwelling communities
conclusion, it sad to not that indigenous people from East Africa are few
because of US visa problems. I do recommend the UNPFII to intervene by asking
the US Embassies around the world to be flexible in issuing the Visas to the
indigenous people to attend global events in the US, especially the Embassy in
by: Peter Kiplangat CHERUIYOT …………..
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office: email@example.com
www.ogiekpeoples.org Tel:+254512213803 Box 424-20115 Egerton, Kenya