Ruto sparks international outcry after evicting the Ogiek community

Ruto sparks international outcry after evicting the Ogiek community

Ruto sparks international outcry after evicting the Ogiek community

The eviction of the indigenous Ogiek Community from inside the Mau Forest has led to international condemnation of the Kenyan government. Otsieno Namwaya, the director of Human Rights Watch for East Africa, said in a Saturday interview with DW that the government has consistently disregarded court orders prohibiting such evictions, citing prior rulings.

According to Otsieno, “the government hasn’t even responded in any meaningful way, stopped the evictions from happening, or shown any signs that they are planning to compensate the evictees.”

Following President William Ruto’s order for everyone living in the forest to vacate,  the eviction process began. The president had said in November, “Those who are still in the forest should leave  as soon as possible because we will erect a fence, and that is not a request.” Ruto’s instruction was issued in response to an African Court on Human and  People’s Rights ruling that compensated the Ogiek community for losses incurred  as a result of discrimination and injustices.

The Court ordered the Government of Kenya to pay compensation of Ksh 57,850,000 for material prejudice for loss of property and natural resources, and Ksh 100 million for moral prejudice suffered by the community due to violations of the right to non-discrimination, religion, culture, and development. The ruling was applauded by UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Francisco Cali Tzay, in July.

The Ogiek Community has expressed dissatisfaction about the treatment they received throughout the eviction process, citing claims of property destruction by Kenya Forest Service rangers.

“All my kin are buried here. There is nowhere else that I know of where my grandmother and my great-grandmother were buried. Where else will I go? I grew up being told this is my home,” Ngusilo, a member of the Ogiek Community, lamented.

Human rights lawyer and Director of the International Lawyers Project Lucy Claridge, speaking on the same platform, suggested that the eviction move would connect with international carbon markets set up during climate change summits.

“We also know that those who are trading carbon in Kenya—that is, Kenya’s forests and other assets—have a lot of interest in doing so,” the speaker said.Amnesty International, Survival International, and Minority Rights Group International jointly expressed their displeasure with the evictions and demanded an immediate halt in a statement.

According to a portion of the statement, “The signatory organizations call on the government of Kenya to immediately cease all evictions in the Mau Forest, as they violate both Kenyan law and the rulings of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights in the Ogiek case.”

Further, the organizations discredited the concern of the Kenyan government, which highlighted human encroachment as a reason to justify the evictions. According to the statement, the Ogiek would be the best guardians of the forests.

We do point out that numerous studies have demonstrated that Indigenous Peoples are the most effective stewards of their ancestral lands. The statement stated: “The groundbreaking ruling by the African Court in the Ogiek case affirmed that there is no proof the government can protect biodiversity in the Mau Forest more effectively than the Ogiek are already doing, and that conservation cannot be used as a justification for driving Indigenous Peoples from their ancestral lands.

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