NEWS until 2005

March 2004 United Nations On Human Rights - Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Minorities - Working Group on Minorities - 10th Session

January 2002 KENYA AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TREATIES ON MINORITIES - On the violations "Against International Treaties And Conventions"



United Nations On Human Rights

Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Minorities

Working Group on Minorities 

10th Session 

1st -5th March, 2004

Geneva, Switzerland.

Agenda, Item 3(a)


......  Thank you Mr. Chairman,

My name is Daniel Mpoiko Kobei ; I am a Kenyan representing a minority, hunter-gatherer community called Ogiek in Kenya. 

Sir, I consider a great privilege to be part of this august house and a more so amidst the 10th Session of United Nation Working Group on Minorities. Being a minority from a minority community of approximately 22,000 people out of a Kenyan population of about 30 million people according to 1999 national census. 

For more than 3 years Kenya has been undergoing a constitutional review process with aim of coming up with a people driven constitution. 

We the minorities are hoping that the constitution review process going on in Kenya may have a place for the minority communities, hence the long awaited dreams of minorities including self-determination, rights to our ancestral land, rights to our languages, rights to our cultural heritage, absolute control over our knowledge, rights to our legal system, rights to all form of institutions, free and prior informed consent to many activities that affect our peoples and the right to participate in all decision making whether political or otherwise as long as it affect our people.

In our case Ogiek, we are faced with untold suffering of being denied the true ownership of our ancestral lands in Mau Forest Complex in Rifty Valley and Chepkitale Area in Mt. Elgon District, hence being denied our sacred places, herbal knowledge and the blessings of the mother earth in place of multinational companies (Raiply company, Timsales Company etc.) who harvest our trees without our consent. The previous KANU government demarcated our land and distributed to the well connected majority communities and issued them with the title deeds despite of the High Court order of 1997 of constitutional suit no. HCCA 635/97. The influx of majority communities to our lands was due to our forest resources and the fertility of our soils. From the days of our ancestors we lived and eat from the forest, we made our livelihood to the envy of many, in other words we have lived, work and walked in the footprints of our ancestors.

Recently the current Kenyan NARC govt, minister for Environment and Natural resources announced that Ogiek should be left in the state forest (East African Standard Newspaper Of 16th January 2004) to preserve and conserve forest without being allowed total ownership of the land and natural resources from the forest and other resources. In this case we live in a life only determined by whoever is in power, meaning, if the Ogiek people are not given true ownership of the land the future governments may evict us as it has been the case before i.e colonial era(Eviction took place in the following years 1911-1914, 1918,1926-1927, 1939-41 and 1958, the aim of colonialist was that Ogiek should be assimilated to the major communities because they were too few which they resisted) and post-colonial period (1977 and 1987). The Chepkitale land in Mt Elgon Forest was declared a game reserve on 6th June 2000, living the Ogiek people homeless in their on land. The land problems amongst the Ogiek is one of the basis of their social, political and economic woos. This has lead to them having more than 95% illiteracy, living below poverty line and having no political representation in all spheres of government.

Sir, may we suggest to this august house the following recommendations:

We are therefore, requesting the Working Group On Minorities (WGM) to try and come up with lasting solutions by contacting the Kenyan government to settle Ogiek in their ancestral lands i,e Mau Forest Complex and Chepkitale area and allow them to have a full control of their resources and rights as stipulated in the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) article 1.1 and International Covenant on Economic on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICERD) 1.1, of which Kenya is part of this treaties.

Land court case (constitutional suit no. HCCA 635/97) from the Ogiek community dating 1997 has never been finalised, the case was basically asking for our land Rights in the great Mau Forest Complex. hence we are requesting WGM to call on the Kenyan government to ensure that justice prevails in this case as per United Nations Declarations on Minorities (UNDM)

Ogiek people should allowed to participate in decision making in all the political spheres and development in Kenya, this should include Political representations i.e special seats to be allocated to them in parliament as per ICCPR article 25, ICERD article 5, c, e and UNDM article 2.3

A lot may be said about Ogiek e.g lack of political representation, illiteracy, poverty etc. The great solution for the community is to be given recognition in all aspects and above all to own their ancestral land and develop, as it is their livelihood 

Thank you; 

Daniel M. Kobei

Chairman Ogiek Peoples Development Program (OPDP)





On the violations "Against International Treaties And Conventions,"

my country Kenya, takes pride being a global conscientious partner, supporting many international conventions and treaties regarding the environment and the rights if indigenous communities. The Kenya government in denying the recognition of the indigenous minority Ogiek and desecration of the Mau forest is in direct violation of international environment and human rights laws it adopted. In 1972 Kenya agreed to a Multilateral World Heritage Convention, which approved a treaty concerned with the protection and survival of cultural and natural heritages. In being in active member of this agreement, Kenya pledged to safeguard and protect heritages from any social or economic changes that cause damage or destruction of a heritage. Again in 1982 pledging to abide by The World Charter for Nature, the Kenyan government promised to respect nature and all its processes, avoid irreversible damage, and adapt agriculture and forest practices that are to the environment. Lastly, in 1992 accepting the convention on Biological Diversity, Kenya vowed to protect the ecosystem and natural habitats, respect indigenous communities and use nature in such a way that does not cause harm to the biodiversity, or present and future generations. In these three treaties alone, the government of Kenya has disregarded the socioeconomic dependency of the Ogiek on the Mau Forest, dismissed the cultural and spiritual importance of the Mau Forest as an integral part of the Ogiek and Kenyan Society. The declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples as enshrined in the United Nation charter is useful to the workings of this commission and states: “Indigenous peoples have right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual and material relationship with the lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used and uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.”

It goes further to state that Article 6 requires that the Governments make possible for indigenous peoples to participate in all levels of decision-making, whether administrative or elective to the same extent as other sectors of the society. It requires that they be consulted when action (legislative or Administrative is being planned) that is likely to affect them. These consultations should be done in good faith. Consultation would deem effective where those concerned have an opportunity to influence the decision taken.

Article 7 of the UN Draft Declaration proposes: that “Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right not to be subjected to ethnocide and cultural genocide, including right the prevention of and redress for:

* Any action which the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples; or of their cultural values or ethnic identities.
* Any action, which has the aim of dispossessing tem of their lands, territories or their resources.
* Any form of population transfer that the aim or the effect of violating or undermining any of their rights.
* Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures;
* Any form of propaganda and false publicity directed against them.



Events of the last couple of years inform us that, the government of Kenya is out to destroy the Ogiek, this in violation of article 20, of the charter establishing this commission while the Ogiek are highly adapted to their life in the Mau. Life outside the forest is unfamiliar; frightening and possesses many threats to the innocent and naïve Ogiek people. As forest dwellers; they lack the social skills necessary to survive successfully in the modern world. They have become susceptible to the influences of money, and modern conveniences, diseases, and illness of their new environment. Tuberculosis, Malaria and sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea, AIDS, and HIV are a few examples of infirmity that present a deadly threat to their existence. The Ogiek of the Mau forest once self sustaining, spiritual, and proud people now find their heritage and their heritage and their cultural spirit dissolving at the hands of man. The assimilation of the Ogiek people into the outside world is occurring today.

Centuries of data, rituals and spiritually that were once passed down series; fables and discussions are slowly being lost in the transition with each generation. The assimilation of the Ogiek is a threat to their language, culture and heritage. Assimilation is erasing centuries of Knowledge and an enriching way of life.

Kiplangat Cheruiyot
Program Officer
Cultural and Land Rights Affairs
Ogiek People Development Program

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