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Monthly Archives: March 2013

African Court Halts Ogieks Eviction

The Kenyan Government is once again on the spot over the violation of rights of indigenous people by evicting them from their ancestral land.

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has ruled that the Government must not evict the members of the marginalized Ogiek community from their land in the Mau Forest.

The ruling on March 15 came hot on the heels of another delivered by the court in May 2009, that the Endorois’ eviction from their traditional land for tourism development violated their human rights.

The decision was historic since it recognized for the first time in Africa, indigenous peoples’ rights over traditional land. But to date, the Government has not implemented the international court’s verdict on the rights of the Endorois contravening the African Charter to which it is a signatory. The ruling directed the Government to compensate the Endorois over the eviction.

In its latest ruling, the African Court states that: “There exists a situation of extreme gravity and urgency as well as a risk of irreparable harm to the Ogiek Community with regard to violation of their rights guaranteed under the charter.”

The court ordered the Government to reinstate restrictions it had imposed on land transactions in the Mau forest while it reaches a decision on the issue. The Ogiek, who have seen much of their forest home destroyed by illegal settlers and loggers, welcomed the news.

Joseph Sang, an Ogiek spokesman, said the ruling was welcome and is optimistic that Ogieks will get justice in the long run.

Conservation

“It is a relief yet again for indigenous people in the African context. We are all supportive of any move that will deliver justice to the Ogiek people,” he said. According to the suit, the new conservation measures by the Government threaten the Ogiek community with eviction from their forest home.

According to the Minority Rights Group, which with the Ogiek Peoples Development Programme and Centre for Minority Rights brought the case to the court, it was the first time the court was intervening to protect the rights of minorities.

“This is the first time the African Court, which has been in operation since 2006, has intervened to protect the rights of an indigenous community,” he said.

Members of the Ogiek community have welcomed the court’s decisions, saying historically they are indigenous people living in Mau forest. “Without forest we cannot survive. We gather fruits from forest, we collect honey from the forest, and we hunt wild animals, and that is how we survive,” said the Executive Director of the Ogiek Peoples Development Programme Mr Daniel Kobei.

The Endorois is an indigenous community of 60,000 people who lived in the Lake Bogoria area.

The community had gone to court to contest alleged violations resulting from their displacement from their ancestral land, failure to adequately compensate them for loss of property, the disruption of the community’s pastoral enterprise, and violations of their right to practice their religion and culture.

source standardnewspaper 26/03/2013

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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Minority group blame Raila for snubbing them in nominations:

The Ilchamus community in Baringo County has faulted CORD leader Raila Odinga for snubbing them in the allocation of nominations to Parliament despite their loyalty

The community, who reside in the newly created Baringo South constituency, said despite voting nearly 90 per cent for CORD against a strong Jubilee wave in the region. Out of the 8,000 registered members of the community, 6,000 voted for Odinga. “We have been loyal to ODM ever since. In the 2009 referendum when all communities in Rift Valley were opposing the new Constitution, the Ilchamus joined Odinga in supporting it but we have nothing to show for it,” said Amos ole Mpaka their spokesperson.

The Ilchamus are a small populous community living around Lake Baringo and have been complaining of being marginalized in development projects. The community has been battling with floods, insecurity and rampant poverty.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Communities fear eviction following discovery of minerals:

Communities residing in areas targeted for mineral explorations and development of resort cities are living in fear of being displaced, a new survey shows.

Land experts have, however, assured them that there is no need to panic as the country has new legal mechanisms to adequately address their concerns. According to a new survey by the Land Development and Governance Institute (LDGI), communities in the lower Eastern and upper Eastern regions are concerned that they might end up losing out to organizations with mining interests as well as new investments driven by emerging resort cities in their respective areas.

However, the institute says there is no need for such communities to worry. “While these concerns deserve to be given a high priority as we continue implementing land reforms as a country, we would like to remind Kenyans that we now have new legal instruments to enable us to better address the pertinent issues,” says LDGI chairman, Ibrahim Mwathane.

Apart from the Constitution, which has an elaborate chapter on land matters, there is also the National Land Policy that spells out how to reform the country’s land sector, and addresses other pertinent land issues.

Things have been made better by last year’s enactment of three land laws; the Land Act, the Land Registration Act and the National Land Commission Act.

Residents of Kitui have raised concern that with the discovery of coal in the area, some of them might be displaced without adequate compensation. Similar concerns have also been raised by residents of Isiolo where a resort city is being put up. Recent oil discoveries in Turkana have also caused the same concerns.

Mwathane said fears of displacement from legitimate community land driven by interests fuelled by mineral exploration and the resort city, would be addressed by the Evictions and Resettlement Bill on which public views to inform its content are currently being collected by a taskforce. “Kenyans are also reminded that the Constitution protects all private and community land…whether or not the legitimate landowners have titles,” he said.

He also urged national and county governments, and the respective investors, to familiarize themselves with the relevant provisions of various land laws “to avoid unnecessary conflicts with communities and private landowners in the areas of interest”.

It is expected that the Evictions and Resettlement Bill, which will further clarify rights and obligations of landowners and prospecting investors on community land, will be expedited by the incoming Parliament to address emerging concerns by affected communities.

The survey was in the form of a nationwide land, peace and election campaign dubbed Ardhi na Amani Kenya conducted between December last year and February this year.

The campaign captured region-specific issues including gender discrimination in land ownership (western region), historical land injustices, lack of titles and the inherent squatter problem (Coast), mining interests and benefits to communities (lower Eastern), as well as new investments driven by emerging resort cities (upper Eastern region). Other issues discussed were land tenure, land use and the protection of community land

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2013 in News briefs

 

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