In a key moment of a long-running landmark case, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights ruled in favour of the Ogiek people, including by recognising their rights to collective title, to their language, religious and cultural practices, and to consultation for any development or conservation projects on their ancestral lands
Via Forest Peoples Programme (ICCA Consortium Member), with additions from Milka Chepkorir (ICCA Consortium Coordinator, Defending Territories of Life)
It was victory again for the Ogiek peoples of Kenya after the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in Arusha, Tanzania, issued a reparation judgement on 23 June 2022. This follows a landmark judgement in favour of the community on 26 May 2017 by the same court, after continued lack of implementation by the Kenyan government.
The judgment is received with excitement by other communities in Kenya and elsewhere. The Ogiek Peoples Development Programme (OPDP, ICCA Consortium Member) is an Indigenous organisation that has supported the Ogiek throughout this litigation process and on the path towards these great achievements. This has been a long journey, but the Ogiek have persisted against all odds, in partnership with many supporters, and stayed strong in their pursuit of justice and full legal recognition by the Kenyan government.
“Restoring Ogiek Land Rights: A Story of Unity and Resilience”. Credit: Ogiek Peoples Development Programme and International Land Coalition.
For more information, refer to the press release below, published on 23 June 2022 by Forest Peoples Programme (ICCA Consortium Member), and the original case files on the ACHPR website. Show your support for the Ogiek on social media with the hashtag #IStandWithTheOgiek and tag the Ogiek Peoples Development Programme on Twitter and Facebook.
In a judgment handed down today, the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, Tanzania, delivered a reparations judgment in the final act of a long running case. The Court unanimously rejected the Government of Kenya’s objections and ordered Kenya to title Ogiek ancestral lands in Mau Forest.
The Ogiek community has been eagerly waiting for this day since the Court ruled in 2017 that the Kenyan government had violated their rights as guaranteed by the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In today’s judgment, the African Court:
- unanimously dismissed all state objections;
- grants collective title to Ogiek through delimitation & demarcation;
- requests full recognition of the Ogiek, including their language, cultural and religious practices, within one year of ruling;
- recognises, respects and protects the rights of the Ogiek to be effectively consulted in accordance with their traditions and customs in respect of all development, conservation or development projects on Ogiek ancestral land;
- requests full publication of both May 2017 judgment and reparations judgment in official gazette and a newspaper with wide national circulation, as well as on an official government website, within six months of the date of this judgment;
- Awarded 57m KES material damages and 100m KES moral damages to the Ogiek from the Government of Kenya, to be paid into a Community Development Fund established within 12 months of the date of the judgment.
The community welcomed the African Court’s judgment.
“This is a sigh of relief after waiting 4 or 5 years after main judgement of 26 May 2017.”– Daniel Kobei, Executive Director of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP*).
“For us now we feel like we have got what we wanted – the community is inspired,” said Kobei.
“The main thing now is to talk with the Government of Kenya to ensure that whatever the reparations judgement has said can be complied with, and implemented,” he said. “We don’t wish to continue being in and out of court any longer – the Ogiek Community has a role to play in development – both economic and social – in the community, and not only to be seen in the corridors of justice.”
Previously, the Court had ruled that the Kenyan government had violated seven different articles under the African Charter — including the rights to property, freedom from discrimination, culture, freely dispose of wealth and natural resources and development.
“The reparations judgment has cemented the 26 May 2017 landmark judgment by upholding the rights of the Ogiek community with absolute surety over their ancestral land in Mau Complex,” said Kobei.
* OPDP is an indigenous-led organization working to secure the rights of the Ogiek and other marginalized indigenous communities in Kenya.
- For more information, please contact Tom Dixon: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: +44 1608 690760
- Ogiek win another landmark victory in African Court (Minority Rights Group International)
- Judgment Summary (Minority Rights Group International)
- Full details of case: Application 006/2012 (The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights vs Republic of Kenya)
Annex: Timeline of the reparations process
What did the May 2017 Judgment rule?
- The Ogiek are an indigenous community of Kenya.
- The Ogiek are the ancestral owners of the Mau Forest, since time immemorial.
- The Ogiek accordingly have a right of occupation and use of the Mau.
- The need to conserve the Mau Forest does not justify the Ogiek’s eviction.
- There was no evidence that the Ogiek have been responsible for the destruction of the Mau Forest.
- The Ogiek must be part of any decisions made regarding their future.
How does the reparations process relate to the May 2017 Judgment?
- The May 2017 Judgment remains valid & legally binding on the Kenyan Government. The reparations proceedings before the African Court do not change the Judgment in any way.
- The Judgment is not being appealed and cannot be appealed. It cannot be amended. It must be implemented and respected in the form in which it was issued in May 2017.
- The reparations hearing & eventual reparations judgment concern simply the implementation of the May 2017 Judgment. The reparations process seeks a ruling from the Court to explain, in detail, what steps the Government of Kenya must take to place the Ogiek back in the position had none of the various human rights violations taken place.