4 years ago, the Ogiek people of Kenya won a ground-breaking court case at the African Court for Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR). The Ogiek People is an indigenous hunter/gatherer people who have for many years suffered from human rights violations and evictions from their ancestral land in the Mau Forest in western Kenya.
Indigenous peoples in Kenya include hunter-gatherers such as Ogiek, Sengwer, Yaaku Waata and Sanya, while pastoralists include Endorois, Turkana, Maasai, Samburu and others.
Kenya does not have specific legislation on indigenous peoples and has not yet adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ratifies Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization. The indigenous peoples of Kenya face scarcity and insecurity of land and resources, poor services and discrimination.
However, Kenya has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Racial (CERD) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Chapter Four of the Constitution of Kenya contains a progressive Bill of Rights that makes international law a key component of the laws of Kenya and guarantees the protection of minorities and marginalized groups. In accordance with articles 33, 34, 35 and 36, freedom of expression, means of communication and access to information and association are guaranteed. However, the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is not made in Kenya.
Indigenous peoples in Kenya
In Kenya, the people who identify with the indigenous movement are mainly nomadic herders and hunter-gatherers, as well as some fishing villages and small farming communities. It is estimated that pastoralists comprise 25% of the national population, while the largest individual hunter-gatherer community amounts to approximately 79,000.
The pastoralists mainly occupy the arid and semi-arid lands of northern Kenya and towards the border between Kenya and Tanzania in the south.
The hunter-gatherers include the Ogiek, Sengwer, Yiaku, Waata and Aweer (Boni), while the pastoralists include the Turkana, Rendille, Borana, Maasai, Samburu, Ilchamus, Somali, Gabra, Pokot, Endorois and others.
Main challenges for indigenous peoples in Kenya
The indigenous peoples of Kenya face insecurity in the possession of land and resources, poor service provision, low political representation, discrimination and exclusion. The situation of indigenous peoples seems to worsen each year, with increasing competition for resources in their areas.
The practice of forced evictions against indigenous peoples such as Sengwer hunter-gatherers in Kenya has been widespread. These evictions have had serious effects and have caused numerous violations of human rights: the right to security of the person, the right to non-interference with privacy, family and home and the right to the peaceful enjoyment of possessions.
The territories of the indigenous peoples constitute the only remaining space destined for the extraction of natural resources such as oil, gas, wind and geothermal energy, as well as massive infrastructure projects such as railways, roads and pipelines to comply with the country's development plan. called Vision 2030.
Case: Political participation of indigenous women
Indigenous women in Kenya face multifaceted social, cultural, economic and political constraints and challenges. First, by belonging to minority and marginalized peoples at the national level; and secondly, through internal social and cultural prejudices.
Prejudices have continued to deny indigenous women equal opportunities to get out of the marasmus of high levels of illiteracy and poverty. It has also prevented them from having a voice to inform and influence political and cultural governance and development policies and processes, due to unequal power relations at both the local and national levels. However, more women have been elected and entered politics in 2017.
45th regular session of the Human Rights Council
14 September to 2 October 2020
Submission related to the “Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the rights of indigenous peoples”: https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/45/22
( paragraphs 38 and 39)
The Ogiek Peoples Development Programme (OPDP) and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) note with appreciation that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has in 2019 provided assistance for the implementation of the African Court ruling on the rights of the indigenous Ogiek people (paragraphs 38 and 39 of the “Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the rights of indigenous peoples”: https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/45/22 )
The transition from the use of traditional energy sources to renewable energy solutions is rapidly becoming a necessity if humanity is to address the climate emergency we face. However, this pursuit cannot happen at the expense of human rights, including the loss of land, livelihoods and rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The peoples who identify with the Indigenous movement in Kenya are mainly pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, as well as some fisher peoples and small farming communities. Pastoralists are estimated to comprise 25% of the national population, while the largest individual community of hunter-gatherers numbers approximately 79,000. Pastoralists mostly occupy the arid and semi-arid lands of northern Kenya and towards the border between Kenya and Tanzania in the south. Hunter-gatherers include the Ogiek, Sengwer, Yiaku, Waata and Awer (Boni) while pastoralists include the Turkana, Rendille, Borana, Maasai, Samburu, Ilchamus, Somali, Gabra, Pokot, Endorois and others. They all face land and resource tenure insecurity, poor service delivery, poor political representation, discrimination and exclusion. Their situation seems to get worse each year, with increasing competition for resources in their areas.
In Kenya, the peoples who identify with the Indigenous movement are mainly pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, as well as some fisher peoples and small farming communities. Pastoralists are estimated to comprise 25% of the national population, while the largest individual community of hunter-gatherers numbers approximately 79,000.
IWGIA participated in the first part of the 65th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ in Gambia (21/10-10/11) and participated in a side-event on how to strengthen the voice of indigenous peoples and communities in Africa and in the ACHPR. We also supported a member of the Ogiek community in Kenya to participate and give a statement.