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Press Release: Commemoration of the World Indigenous Peoples Day

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

Press Statement: Wednesday 9th August 2023​ For Immediate Release:


The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights joins the world in the commemoration of the 2023 World Indigenous Peoples Day. The World Indigenous Peoples’ Day, commemorated on 9th August every year presents us an opportunity to take stock of the progress made in the protection of the rights of Indigenous People, increase awareness of and champion the rights of Indigenous People and celebrate their successes.

Indigenous People in Kenya and the world at large continue to struggle for recognition of their identities, their way of life and the right to their ancestral lands. Ancestral land, to the Indigenous People, is particularly important as it enables them to enjoy other rights such as the right to culture and religion. Eviction of Indigenous People from their ancestral lands has made it practically impossible for them to enjoy their culture, development, and religion among other rights.

The KNCHR appreciates the significance of land to the enjoyment of other rights by indigenous people as well stated by the African Court in the Ogiek of Mau casein the following terms [At Paragraph 164 of its 2017 Judgment on Merits ]:

in the context of traditional societies where formal religious institutions do not exist, the practice and profession of religion are usually inextricably linked with land and the environment. In indigenous societies in particular, the freedom to worship and to engage in religious ceremonies depends on access to land and the natural environment. Any impediments to, or interference with accessing the natural environment, including land, severely constrains their ability to conduct or engage in religious rituals with considerable repercussion on their freedom of worship.”

The KNCHR notes that conservation efforts have often times disadvantaged Indigenous People who have since time immemorial engaged in conservation of their environment. The KNCHR has documented instances of evictions and resultant violations against Indigenous forest dwelling communities that have occurred in the pursuit of conservation. There is an urgent need to adopt and mainstream a Human Rights Based Approach to conservation that appreciates the role and significant contribution of Indigenous People to climate change, mitigation and adaptation.

In efforts to seek redress for violations suffered, Indigenous People in Kenya have sought the intervention of both local and regional human rights mechanisms. The KNCHR notes the lack of full implementation of decisions of local and regional human rights mechanisms such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights. Such mechanisms have given decisions in favour of the Nubian, the Endorois and Ogiek Communities in Kenya.

To the Indigenous People in Kenya, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights celebrates you on this day. The KNCHR appreciates the important role of indigenous Youth as agents of change for self-determination and assures you of its commitment to protect your rights and dignity. To further this, the KNCHR calls upon the state to among others:

  • Consider the ratification of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO Convention 169)
  • Develop policy and specific national legislation on Indigenous People in Kenya, to provide for their recognition and enhance the protection of among others ancestral land rights, the freedom of religion and/or belief for indigenous communities, the meaningful participation and genuine consultation of Indigenous People in all public affairs among other safeguards.
  • In consultation with the communities, ensure the full implementation of the decisions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and the Judgment of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights in the Nubian, Endorois and Ogiek of Mau cases respectively
  • Develop and publish, in consultation with Indigenous People, Guidelines for a Human Rights Based Approach to Conservation

Haki kwa wote, kila wakati” – Human rights for all, at all times.

Roseline DA Odede


 Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

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Categories: Press Statements
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