Archive 1999



ECOTERRA Intl. - WILD_ROAR, issue 04.06.99

OGIEK honey hunters vs the THE HIGH COURT of the Republic of Kenya
No final justice yet - only two weeks grace period gained.

The High Court of the Republic of Kenya in Nakuru Town extended today
an injunction barring the Government from evicting more than 5.000
members of the Ogiek community from Tinet Forest in Nakuru District of
Kenya for another 14 days, during an inter parte hearing.

It was clearly stated by Nakuru Resident Judge, Justice David Rimita,
that the civil representative case brought forward by 10 elders of the
Ogiek on behalf of the whole minority group was constitutional and
that the Chief Justice Zaccheaus Chesoni was expected to give
directions on the number of judges to hear the suit, since in this
case also specific constitutional matters are raised, which could only
be determined by a bench of at least two or more judges, or as many as
directed by the Chief Justice.

In an affidavit sworn by Mr. Francis Kemei on behalf of the the
community, the Ogiek contend that they have been residing in the very
forest location of their ancestral larger domain already since 1937.

Though Rift Valley Principal State Council Oriri Onyango, appearing
for the State, informed the court that the state parties he represents
to the case, the so called "defendants": The Attorney General, the
Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner, the Provincial Forest Officer and
the Nakuru District Commissioner, John Litunda, had already filed
their replying affidavits, the High Court decided to seek further
advise and set the case for mentioning on June 18.

Opinions from the Ogiek as well as from the numerous independent
observers in the packed courtroom hailed the decision as a sound move
forward to let justice prevail and to halt any operations by force for
the time being, as had been already publicly announced by the District

Armed security personnel, including the feared Administration Police,
had been on the ready today to evict the community, if the court had
not allowed the injunction to stand. Most of the elders had spend the
last nights away from their families, fearing that they might be
arrested for any other fictive reason before they could stand at the
court. Already yesterday (Thursday) about 50 Forest Guards at Kirandit
in Tinet threatened to evict the Ogiek unless they would move out
voluntarily by today. Councillor Charles Rono stated in a local
newspaper that fear and tension had gripped the area following night

The Catholic Diocese of Nakuru applied during the hearing that it
wished to be enjoined in the suit as an interested party, but their
lawyer was instructed by the court to follow the procedures and to
make a proper formal application.

The struggle of the Ogiek has been surrounded by and suffered from all
kind of political and economic interest groups getting involved. Only
a day before this hearing a Nakuru court had ordered an inquiry into
allegations that the local County Council Chairman has been inciting
residents of Tinet Location, Olengururone Division to violence. And
early this year the DC had ordered that 7,000 non-Ogiek people, who
had encroached on Tinet Forest vacate.

We do not want to influence independent judges of the High Court of
Kenya, said one international Nature Protection and Human Rights
Observer, and we hope and wish that this case will end as an example
that justice still can prevail in Kenya, that the judges can maintain
their wise and independent stand and that the Governance shows the
nobility to finally leave the Ogiek in peace in their ancestral lands.

He also cited a paragraph from the new Environmental Management and
Co-ordination Bill (07.5.1999) of the Government of Kenya, which
states in 48 (2):
The Director general shall not take any action, in respect of any
forest or mountain area, which is prejudicial to the traditional
interests of the indigenous communities customarily resident within or
around such forest or mountain area.

It was high time that the Kenya Government abandons inappropriate
conservation legislation from the colonial days, re-establishes the
ancestral domains of its peoples and protects them from the interests
of mighty economic and political interests. Peace in the country will
prevail, if justice and nobility of the government is still able to
protect the minorities and stand strong.


Thanks to all the supporters of the Ogiek from all over the world who
contributed by extending their good motions to the Ogiek and to the
independent judge as well as their concern to the officials.

We will inform you on any further development.


ECOTERRA - Survival for People and Nature