Kenya ordered to pay billions for evicting Ogiek hunter-gatherers

What you need to know:

  • Nairobi was also ordered to pay another Ksh100 million (approximately Sh2 billion) for moral damages to the community, including restitution.

Arusha. The Kenya government has been ordered to pay Ksh57.8 million (about Sh1.1 billion) as compensation to the indigenous Ogiek hunter-gatherers.

The landmark ruling was made by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) following an application filed by the minority group years ago.

Nairobi was also ordered to pay another Ksh100 million (approximately Sh2 billion) for moral damages to the community, including restitution.

Some Ksh57.8 million (Sh1.1 billion) will be for the material damage for the tiny community which had faced eviction from the Mau Forest, their ancestral land.

The Arusha-based legal facility said the state must compensate the Ogiek people since their rights were violated under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

The Court’s latest verdict followed another judgement on May 26th, 2017 in which it ruled that the Ogiek people be compensated for alleged violations of their rights.

The Ogiek are hunter-gatherers who live purely by hunting and gathering- while some do grow vegetables and keep some livestock.

They have traditionally hunted such animals as antelopes and wild pigs, but now generally seen as illegal residents in the Mau Forest in the Rift Valley region.

Ever since colonial times there have been attempts to evict the Ogiek from their ancestral forest, usually on the pretext that they were degrading it.

They have countless times challenged this, insisting that their eviction was meant to pave the way for large scale logging by illegal settlers.

The minority ethnic group initially filed an application before the Court in 2009 challenging the Kenya govenment’s eviction order from the Mau Forest.

They argued through the minority rights activists that the eviction notice did not consider the importance of the forest for their livelihood and survival.

The case has raged for years with the Kenya government contesting rulings on financial compensation for alleged violations prior to 1992 when it became party to the Charter.

To ensure that all registered Ogiek of Mau Forest benefited from the outcome of the litigation, the Court ordered setting up of a fund for the community as part of the reparations.

After the landmark Court ruling in 2017, the Kenya government was ordered to remedy all the violations through compensation within six months from the date of the judgement but the decision has not been implemented to date.