On 23rd and 24th April 2018, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) joined other national human rights institutions in Africa for a regional meeting. The regional meeting is taking place as a pacesetter and on the sidelines of the 62nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights being held in Nouakchott, Mauritania from 25th April to 9th May 2018.
Various representatives from national human rights institutions were making specific submissions on specific measures taken borne out of decisions passed by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Rights (ACHPR) and the African Court.
The Commission is represented at the meeting by Commissioner Shatikha Chivusia and Cyrus Maweu of the Redress department.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is providing its update following the 2010 decisions passed by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Rights and the African Court in the Endorois case.
The genesis of the Endorois dates back between the years of 1973 and 1986, when the Kenyan government forcefully evicted local pastoralist community, out of Lake Bogoria in the then Rift Valley Province in order to establish a protected conservation area. The then decision to evict the community was neither preceded by community consultation nor consent and no compensation for loss of ancestral lands was paid to the community. Their pastoralism way of life was hampered and their practice of religion and culture affected. This interfered with their overall process of development as a community.
The Endorois community, with the assistance of three human rights institutions; Centre for Minority Rights Development, Minority Rights Group International and the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions challenged the violation of their rights by the State in the Kenyan Courts in the 1990s and later sought the intervention of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Rights (ACHPR). The government of Kenya was found culpable of violating six Articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and a decision on the same was passed in 2010.
Some of the key recommendations by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to the Government of Kenya was to; recognize rights of ownership of the Endorois ancestral land, ensure unrestricted access to Lake Bogoria, pay adequate compensation and from existing activities ensure the Endorois benefit from employment within the reserve. On its part, the Government promised implementation of the decision but nothing much has been done so far despite the registration of the Endorois Welfare Council and subsequent setting up of a Taskforce in 2014.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has been instrumental in the implementation process of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Rights (ACHPR) decision through strategies such as community sensitization, convening different stakeholders to formulate an implementation plan, rendering advisories to the Government on implementation of the decision and proactively participating in the appointed taskforce whose term has since elapsed.
Lack of political good will and commitment has been cited as one of the key bottleneck in the implementation of the Africa Commission and African Court on Human and People Rights decisions. On the other hand, internal conflict amongst community members is seen a catalyst in stalling structured engagement and mechanism to ensure compliance with the decisions made on behalf of the Endorois.
It is envisaged that the Government will commence comprehensive legal and institutional reforms that will seek to better protect community rights of the Endorois and other local communities.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights will continue to advocate and recommend to the government specific viable redress mechanisms to facilitate restoration of the community’s rights including the amount and nature of compensation.