The indigenous Sengwer community living in Embobut Forest has questioned the presence of international agencies in a task force established to look into indigenous peoples’ land rights.
Yesterday, the community questioned the presence of a team, it claimed, comprises a European body in the task force on implementation of the decision of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights.
The task force was formed after the African court ruled in 2017 that Kenya had violated the rights to land, religion, culture, development, and non-discrimination of the Ogiek, a hunter-gatherer community residing in Mau Forest and other forests in the Rift Valley.
Sengwer community secretary Elias Kimaiyo told The Standard that the community was shocked to discover the presence of the agencies in a task force created to seek views on how to improve the relationship between indigenous communities and state agencies.
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“We were surprised to discover that members of the task force were accompanied by the officials to attend a task force meeting created to solve Kenya’s internal issues. We asked the role of these officials in the task force and we are yet to be told,” Mr Kimaiyo said.
Last week, the task force toured Maron, Kewabus, and Tangul areas of Embobut Forest which are part of the Cherangany water tower. A member of the task force who declined to be named dismissed the claims and said the team accompanied experts whose role would be explained in their report.
The report, which is expected to be out before the end of the year, will tackle all issues affecting indigenous communities, especially forest dwellers.
According to Kimaiyo, the task force met members of the Marakwet and Sengwer communities in a meeting held at Chesoi CDF Hall on Thursday. Sengwer said Embobut was their only ancestral home.
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