DEFENDERS HALT "DEFENDANTS"
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
members of the Ogiek community from Tinet Forest in Nakuru
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
Ogiek on behalf of the whole minority group was constitutional
that the Chief Justice Zaccheaus Chesoni was expected to give
directions on the number of judges to hear the suit, since in
case also specific constitutional matters are raised, which
be determined by a bench of at least two or more judges, or 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
forest location of their ancestral larger domain already since
Though Rift Valley Principal
State Council Oriri Onyango, appearing
for the State, informed the court that the state parties he
to the case, the so called "defendants": The Attorney
Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner, the Provincial Forest
the Nakuru District Commissioner, John Litunda, had already
their replying affidavits, the High Court decided to seek
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
forward to let justice prevail and to halt any operations by
the time being, as had been already publicly announced by the
Armed security personnel,
including the feared Administration Police,
had been on the ready today to evict the community, if the court
not allowed the injunction to stand. Most of the elders had
last nights away from their families, fearing that they might be
arrested for any other fictive reason before they could stand at
court. Already yesterday (Thursday) about 50 Forest Guards at
in Tinet threatened to evict the Ogiek unless they would move
voluntarily by today. Councillor Charles Rono stated in a local
newspaper that fear and tension had gripped the area following
The Catholic Diocese of Nakuru
applied during the hearing that it
wished to be enjoined in the suit as an interested party, but
lawyer was instructed by the court to follow the procedures and
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.
a day before this hearing a Nakuru court had ordered an inquiry
allegations that the local County Council Chairman has been
residents of Tinet Location, Olengururone Division to violence.
early this year the DC had ordered that 7,000 non-Ogiek people,
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
that justice still can prevail in Kenya, that the judges can
their wise and independent stand and that the Governance shows
nobility to finally leave the Ogiek in peace in their ancestral
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
forest or mountain area, which is prejudicial to the traditional
interests of the indigenous communities customarily resident
around such forest or mountain area.
It was high time that the Kenya
Government abandons inappropriate
conservation legislation from the colonial days, re-establishes
ancestral domains of its peoples and protects them from the
of mighty economic and political interests. Peace in the country
prevail, if justice and nobility of the government is still able
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
independent judge as well as their concern to the officials.
We will inform you on any further
ECOTERRA - Survival for People
FIRST PEOPLES & NATURE FIRST!