false start for Ogiek case
Kamau, Rights Features Service
21, 2002) The Ogiek indigenous community today expressed frustration
after their court case was once again rescheduled to April 23.
March, the Ogiek have been attempting through legal means to stop
the President Daniel arap Moi government from degazetting parts
of their east Mau forest and allocating them to outsiders. This
most recent delay results from the government's failure to file
a replying affidavit.
are Africa's last known honey-hunters and have been fighting to
save their land from encroachment by timber, tea and political
is yet another false start, but we will have to wait for them
to file the defense," the Ogiek attorney, Kathurima M'Inoti,
said in Nairobi today.
had earlier told Justice Rimita of the Kenyan High Court to allow
the case to go ahead ex parte since the government had
not filed the defense. Ex parte, literally meaning "for
one party only," refers to situations in which only one party
(and not the adversary) appears before a judge. The High Court
was told that the state counsel, Muthoni Kimani, who was supposed
to represent the government was "out of the country."
was earlier being handled by State Counsel Valerie Onyango and
it is not clear why Muthoni Kimani is taking it over. Kimani handled
the earlier forest case at the High Court in Eldoret, where the
court gave the government permission to degazette the forests.
the Ogiek lawyer will on Monday serve the new minister for environment,
Joseph Kamotho, with a court order that stops any interference
with the east Mau land until the current case is heard and determined.
numerous changes at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
means we have to keep on serving the new ministers with the same
order. We do not want to find ourselves in a position where a
minister says he was not served with an order," said Kathurima.
case was filed last year, three politicians have held posts as
Environmental Minister. An ongoing reshuffle saw the exit of Joseph
Nyenze and then Noah Katana Ngala.
the press outside the High Court, the Ogiek Welfare Council spokesman,
Joseph Towett, said the community is "determined to have
the case concluded."
100 Ogiek elders jammed the corridors of the High Court to listen
to the case.
will not tire to come here," an elder told Rights Features
The Ogiek are Africa's last known
honey-hunters and have been fighting to save their land from
encroachment by timber, tea and political interests.