In Summary
  • On May 26, 2017, the Arusha-based Court directed the Kenyan government to resettle thousands of members of the community.
  • CS Tobiko has maintained that the second phase of Mau Forest restoration will not be negotiable.
  • Mr Tobiko announced cancellation of at least 1200 title deeds, he said were obtained through unscrupulous means.

Hopes by members of the Ogiek community of returning to their ancestral land in the Mau Forest complex have been thrown into limbo amid fresh evictions from the water tower.

The implementation of a landmark judgement, delivered on May 26, 2017 by the Arusha-based African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which directed the Kenyan government to resettle thousands of members of the community, now appears to have run into headwinds, with the government instead determined to evict thousands of settlers from Mau Forest.

An exclusive interview with leaders of the Ogiek, revealed that members of the community are apprehensive and worried that the implementation process might be derailed following the recent developments.

According to Mr Joseph Towett, the Ogiek Council of Elders chairman, justice for the Ogiek has been delayed and remains elusive.

“The government has been renewing the term of the taskforce since last year. We are yet to see even an interim report by the team. Justice delayed is justice denied. We are very apprehensive that the same government evicting settlers from the Mau Forest Complex, will honour the judgement,” Mr Towett told the Nation.

NO DIALOGUE YET

Another leader, James Cheruiyoit, expressed his apprehension, saying the taskforce formed by Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko, appears to be buying time, but is not ready to implement the judgement.

“The taskforce is yet to fully involve us as they spearhead implementation of the court ruling. We haven’t seen serious dialogue with the community,” added Mr Cheruiyoit.

The leaders are apprehensive and doubt the government’s commitment to implement the historic judgement.

The government, which is fighting encroachment into water catchment areas, seemingly appears reluctant to implement the ruling.

Since 2018, the government has stepped up its bid to evict illegal settlers from the Mau Forest complex, before the bid was slowed down by political bickering.

NON-NEGOTIABLE

However, after the first phase of the evictions, CS Tobiko has now stepped up a second phase which he says is aimed at reclaiming the key water tower that is the source of many rivers that support millions of lives in the region.

CS Tobiko has maintained that the second phase of Mau Forest restoration will not be negotiable, days after he announced the cancellation of at least 1,200 title deeds which he said were obtained through unscrupulous means.

Five ranches which are believed to have extended their land into the water tower are being targeted for reclamation.

The second phase of the evictions has Nkoben, Ilmotiok and Ololung'a, Enokishomi, Enoosokon, Nkaroni and Sisian areas on the radar.

The Ogiek community has now threatened to go back to the Arusha court if the government derails the implementation of the judgement.

REMEDY VIOLATIONS

“The best option we will have as a community will be to go back to the Arusha-based continental court to seek reparations and sue the government for contempt of court. We continue to suffer even after the court directed the Kenyan government to remedy all the violations established within six months of the judgement,” Mr Towett further told the Nation.

Others who have been pushing for implementation of the Arusha judgement include Mr Daniel Kobei, the Executive Director of Ogiek Peoples' Development Programme (OPDP), a Kenyan-based NGO that brought the case against the Kenyan government before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in 2009.

The commission then referred the case to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) in 2012.

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