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African Court Concludes A Hearing Concerning Kenya’s Ogiek Community

Friday, 24 October 2014 00:00

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Arusha, Tanzania 30th November, 2014:

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) on 28th November, 2014 concluded two days of public hearing on the Application 006/2012 African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Applicant) versus Republic of Kenya (Respondent) in Addis Ababa, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
In his opening statement Commissioner Mr Pacifique Manirakiza claimed that the Respondent State had for many years committed a series of acts and omissions, such as harassment and arbitrary forced evictions of the Ogiek, without consultation or compensation, from the Mau Forest, their ancestral home, where they have lived from time immemorial and which was crucial for their very survival as an indigenous people.
The Commission’s lawyers are Mr Tom Nyanduga, Mr Donald Deya and Mr Selemani Kinyunyu.
The Republic of Kenya has denied the Applicant’s charges and also claimed that the Court lacked jurisdiction in the case. The Respondent also alleged that the Ogiek community had not exhausted the country’s local remedial process.
The Republic of Kenya was represented by a team of three lawyers, led by Senior Deputy Solicitor General, Ms Muthoni Kimani.
Over 20 members of the Ogiek Community, donned in their traditional attire, were among the big audience listening attentively to the proceedings before a bench of nine Judges presided by Justice Augustino Ramadhani, President of the Court.
In attendance also were human rights activists, NGOs, members of diplomatic corps, human rights groups, law students from Addis Ababa University, AU officials and media, among others.
The Court also heard two Ogiek witnesses, an Expert Dr Liz Alden Wily, an Independent Consultant and Political Economist (specializing in land tenure and natural resource governance) and an independent intervention presented by Minority Rights Group’s International Head of Law Ms Lucy Claridge.
The date for the judgment has yet to be decided.
The Court is based in Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania.
The African Court will hold its second public hearing 3-4 December 2014 at AU Headquarters.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. In March 2013, the African Court issued a provisional measures order requiring the Kenyan Government to stop land transactions in the Mau Forest and refrain from taking any action which would harm the case, until it had reached a decision.
2. As at October 2014, the Court had received 33 applications on contentious matters and 8 requests for advisory opinion. The Court has disposed of 24 contentious matters and has 9 pending, while it has disposed of 4 requests for advisory and 4 are pending.
3. The Court is composed of 11 Judges, nationals of Member States of the African Union elected in their individual capacity. The Court meets 4 times a year in Ordinary Sessions.

Further information on the Court can be obtained from the Court’s website at www.african-court.org

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