Court stops eviction of Ogiek from Mau forest

When former Bungoma County Commissioner Maalim Mohamed addressed the Ogiek Community at Chepkitale in Mt Elgon on February 24, 2016. [File, Standard]

The Environment and Lands Court in Nakuru has extended orders stopping the eviction of Ogiek from the Eastern Mau region.

Justice Lynette Omollo today extended the orders issued on November 10.

This follows a petition by the Ogiek Community through its chairperson Wilson Memosi and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) challenging their eviction from the Mau Forest Complex.

The Ogiek and KNHCR named the Attorney General, the Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, the Inspector General of Police, and the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner as respondents in the case.

“Interim conservatory orders are hereby issued suspending the ongoing evictions of the Ogiek community from the Mau Forest Complex pending hearing and determination of this application,” read the orders of the court in part.

The Environment and Lands Court in Narok on November 23, issued similar orders barring the eviction of the Ogiek after the council of elders filed a suit.

In the suit filed in Nakuru Law Courts, the Ogiek through lawyer Victor Muthoga Kamau said the government commenced the forced eviction of the Ogiek community from the East Mau complex.

The exercise affected Sasimwani and Nkereta in the Maasai Mau Trust Land Forest.

They said the evictions were causing a humanitarian crisis.

The community argued that the evictions are against the May 26, 2017, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights decision which found that the Mau Forest Complex is the ancestral land of the Ogiek.

They submitted that the forceful evictions of the Ogiek from their ancestral land violated their rights to culture, religion, property, natural resources, development, and freedom from non-discrimination. 

In the judgment, the regional court affirmed that the Kenya Government, being responsible for the violation of the rights of the Ogiek, bore the responsibility for rectifying the consequences of its wrongful acts.

The court found that the government’s failure to recognize the Ogiek’s status as a distinct tribe, as afforded to other similar groups, denied them the rights available to other tribes, and thus amounted to discrimination. 

The court declared that the Ogiek had a communal right to their ancestral land and their expulsion from their ancestral land against their will and without prior consultation violated their property rights guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Ogiek claim that despite the progressive and landmark judgment in their favour, the government is yet to implement even one order of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 

“Instead, they have acted in blatant contempt of the court’s orders by issuing threats against the Ogiek in the Mau Forest Complex and actual eviction against the Ogiek living in Sasimwani and Nkereta areas within Maasai Mau Trust Land with threats to the East Mau Complex,” read the petition.

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