By ERIC MATARA - DN - November 16 2018
Members of the Ogiek community during a past function. The Ogiek community has accused the government of foot-dragging in putting into effect a landmark ruling by the African Court on Human and People's Rights in Arusha, Tanzania on their eviction from Mau Forest. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Ogiek community has accused the government of foot-dragging in putting into effect a landmark ruling by the African Court on Human and People's Rights in Arusha, Tanzania on their eviction from Mau Forest, one year after judgement was issued.

The community led by its council of elders chairman, Mr Joseph Towett, said on Wednesday that the government had failed to implement the judgment that was issued in May 2017.

The Ogiek say that, despite the government on November 10, 2017 gazetting a task force to implement the judgment, nothing has been done and the community continues to suffer in silence due to historical injustices.


In its findings last year, the court said the Ogiek were not consulted on evictions from their ancestral lands in the Mau Forest.

After a five-year legal battle, the court ruled that the government had violated the community’s rights and freedoms and directed it to remedy all the violations.

In a surprise move, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko last week, once again, gazetted the names of the task force, which the community says they do not trust to implement the judgement.

“We are calling upon President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Chief Justice David Maraga to intervene and involve the Ministry of Lands. Our grievance was over land but it has now been left to the Ministry of Environment,” Mr Towett told Nation.

The community threatened to go back to court for review if the ruling is not implemented by the end of the year.


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Some of the residents from Ogiek Community destroying charcoal burnt at the middle of Kiptunga Forest in Mau on March 7,2018. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Government has appointed a team to implement the decision of the African Court on the Ogiek Community land rights in Mau Forest.

The 16-member task force is to also look into all community forests in the country and develop a policy framework for the better management, conservation and protection of the areas.

In a gazette notice published on Friday, Environment and Forestry CS Keriako Tobiko said the team to forward monthly reports to his office is to complete its job in six months.

The community forests to be identified fall under Article 63 of the Constitution. The Article provides that community land shall vest in and be held by the communities identified on the basis of ethnicity, culture or similar community interest.

Process of law

It further states that community land should consist of land lawfully transferred to a specific community by any process of law and any other land declared to be community land by an Act of Parliament.

Tobiko said the team is to prepare interim and final reports on actions taken pursuant to any court orders in respect of indigenous communities in the country for submission to the African Court. The task force to be chaired by Dr Robert Kibugi has members drawn from various communities. They are Dr Sally Kimosop (Vice chair), Ole Kamuaro Nabulu, Esau Oginga, Cyrus Maweu, Emmanuel Bitta, Tom Abuta, Florence Wachira, Malik Abdi, Belinda Okello, Stephen King’uyu and Eugene Lawi. Joint secretaries are Stella Gatama and Joseph Njigoya.

The Ogiek had rejected a task force that was formed on November 10, 2017, saying it lacked their representatives.

The African Court found on May 26, 2017 that 35,000 Ogiek members were forcefully evicted from their ancestral land in the Mau catchment.

The court ruled that the Government violated the Ogiek's rights on religion, culture, development, life and non-discrimination. “The evictions have adversely impacted on their economic, social and cultural development,” read the judgment.

The State was given six months to remedy the violations.