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27.11.2014 19:44 News >> Au Court Hears Ogiek Charges Against Kenya

Au Court Hears Ogiek Charges Against Kenya

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights on Thursday held a public hearing into the case of the minority Ogiek community, which has brought a lawsuit against the Kenyan government.

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights on Thursday held a public hearing into the case of the minority Ogiek community, which has brought a lawsuit against the Kenyan government.

The Ogiek community has accused the Kenyan government of treating it unfairly and dispossessing it of territory in the Mau Forest of the Rift Valley, to which the Ogeik people claim a historical right.

At the first hearing, the Ogiek people were represented by African Union Commissioner Pacifique Manirakiza and lawyer Behame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga, while the Kenyan government was represented by a team of lawyers headed by Mothoni Kimani.

The Ogiek ethnic group, which is based in southern Kenya and northwestern Tanzania, are traditional hunter-gatherers, while most other groups in the region are farmers or pastoralists.  

At the hearing, Kimani said that the government saw the African court as lacking jurisdiction in the case.

"We have a local domestic judicial system; the other Ogieks went to the court and the court directed the Kenyan government to sit with people and solve this matter," she said.

"The court should not admit the case because issues of historical and traditional rights are protected by the Kenyan constitution and addressed in the Kenyan legal framework and mechanism, which is very broad," she added.

Nyanduga, for his part, confirmed the jurisdiction of the African Court in the case and presented a legal argument for defending the applicants' rights in Mau Forest.

The court also heard testimony from a number of witnesses and experts.

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights was established by African countries to ensure the protection of human and peoples' rights in Africa. It aims to complement and reinforce the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.

The protocol establishing the court came into force in 2004 after being ratified by more than 15 member states.

To date, only 26 states have ratified the protocol, including Kenya.

The court officially began its activities in 2006 in Addis Ababa before being moved to Arusha, Tanzania.

However, the court will hold its ordinary session from November 24 to December 5 in Addis Ababa.

The court also plans to hold two public hearings during its session at African Union headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

The second hearing, slated for December 3, will hear the case of Alex Thomas, who is challenging a 30-year jail term for robbery that he received in his native Tanzania in 1998. The conviction was upheld by a Court of Appeal in 2009.

Yet the court said his notice of motion for the review, which was addressed to the district registrar of Tanzania's High Court in Arusha, had not been granted since, considering it a deprivation of his basic right to be heard.

englishnews@aa.com.tr

www.aa.com.tr/en - Addis Ababa



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