The African Court of Human and Peoples Rights in Arusha issued a historic judgement in favour of the Ogiek community of Kenya - one of the last remaining forest-dwelling communities and among the most marginalised indigenous peoples in the country. This followed an eight-year legal battle, fought by Voice grantee Minority Rights Group International, Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program and CEMIRIDE.
For decades, Ogiek have been routinely subjected to arbitrary forced evictions by the government from their ancestral land in the Mau Forest, without consultation or compensation. This has had a detrimental impact on the pursuit of their traditional lifestyle, religious and cultural life, access to natural resources and their very existence as indigenous people. Today the Court found the Kenyan government to have violated seven separate articles of the African Charter.
MRG Legal team’s work was also featured in a recent study by Open Society Justice Initiative which looked at the impact of indigenous communities around the world using strategic litigation to assert their land rights. The study found that, while not a panacea, strategic litigation like the present case can have material impact on the relevant communities, as well as significant broader impact in terms of raising awareness, reforming legal frameworks, encouraging subsequent litigation. The report also particularly commended MRG’s approach of long term community engagement and legal empowerment which was found to have tangible benefits at the community level including political empowerment, cultural regeneration and historical documentation, community organising and leadership, gender equity, and peer-to-peer capacity building.
The work doesn’t end here – the issue of reparation is to be decided in a future hearings, and in our experience implementation requires long-term advocacy and community mobilisation – still we hope that you will join us in celebrating this landmark victory!