Kenya: Ogiek Protest Against Planned Tree Harvesting in Elburgon

13 December 2019

Members of the Ogiek community have protested the impending harvesting of trees in Mariashoni, Elburgon, by private investors.

The community in a letter written to the chief conservator of forest, Joseph Kamau, now want the exercise to be halted.

"We seek your assistance to prevail upon your staff to respect the rights of all members of Ogiek community to fair hearing and honest implementation of the court decisions entered in their favour," read part of the letter signed by the national chairperson of Ogiek council of elders Joseph Kimaiyo Towett.

Mr Towett said the illegal harvesting of trees was contrary to the court ruling which upheld the respect to lives, properties, homes and livelihoods of each member of the Ogiek community.

"The architect of this forest corruption destroying our ecosystem are known and should not be left to go scot-free," said Mr Towett.

The Ogiek community has in the past five years won several court cases against marginalisation but the verdicts have never been implemented by the government.

One of the land mark judgement include the African Court of Human Peoples Rights in Arusha, Tanzania which compelled the government to remedy all the violations established and to inform the measures taken within six months.

The Arusha judgement was delivered on May 26, 2017.

In one of the High Court ruling in 2014 the National Lands Commission was directed within one year to identify and open a register of the members of the Ogiek community and identify land for their settlement.

The court had directed the Ogiek community be settled in the excised area in Mariashoni and Nessuit in Njoro sub county.

Five years down the line the National Lands Commission has never implemented the court ruling.

Mr Towett said all the court decisions are in the government custody and are binding and should be implemented without further delay.

At the same time the Ogiek community said they fully supported the government firm decision to remove illegal settlers who had encroached the government forest and water catchment areas.

However, the community said that it was concerned that even with the ban on logging, trees were still being harvested on the controversial land.

"Ogiek will continue pushing for honest restoration of Mau ecosystem and weeding out of corrupt governmnet officials," concluded Mr Towett.

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