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Kenya
25.03.21
Urgent Interventions

Kenya: Judicial harassment against indigenous Maasai human rights defenders

JOINT STATEMENT

25 March 2021

Drop the trumped-up charges against indigenous Maasai human rights defenders, and ensure fair hearing on the land ownership of the Maasai peoples against Kedong Ranch Ltd.


We, Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI), Narasha Community Development Group (NCDG) and the Maasai peoples in Kitet community, are calling for support to the plight of the Maasai peoples in defending their ancestral lands against Kedong Ranch Limited, a corporation that acquired lease to their 75,000-acre lands since the 1970s. Kedong Ranch Ltd. currently has 23 shareholders, including members of the family of the current President, Uhuru Kenyatta.

With the protection of the police, Kedong Ranch Ltd. has been digging deep trench around the Maasai peoples’ community land — a colonial practice that violates their rights to livelihood and culture as pastoralists.

On 21 January 2021, Tima Kuronoi, Kingiri Kuronoi, and Oropi Kuronoi were arrested and charged with assault while trying to stop the employees of Kedong Ranch Ltd. from their ongoing activity of digging trench around their ancestral lands. They were released on bail on the same day, and their case is ongoing.

In 2020, Robinson Nalengoyo Ole Torome and Raphael Kerenke were also arrested on 26 June and 12 October, respectively. Torome is charged with causing bodily harm and disturbances while Kerenke, who was beaten by the police before being arrested, is charged with attempted assault. Both were released on bail and their cases are ongoing.

All of their cases revolve around their dissent towards Kedong Ranch Ltd.’s continued use of their ancestral lands without their free, prior, and informed and consent (FPIC) and the ongoing threats to their safety and security, and cultural identity.

The trenches dug has already resulted to the death of a 9-year-old Maasai girl, Jackline Nasinkoi Muntolol, in September 2020. She accidentally fell in the 11-foot trench on her way home. The trench has also killed a number of the Maasai’s livestock.

There have also been several development projects within the Kedong Ranch— among them, the geothermal plants known as Olkaria IV and V, a 1,000-acre dry port, and allocation of 1,000-acre each to Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan for the development of dry ports— that are being implemented without any meaningful consultation with the Maasai.

Kedong Ranch Ltd.’s incessant disregard to the Maasai peoples’ collective rights to their ancestral lands and self-determination has also caused division within the community.

In December 2019, four individuals who claimed to represent the community, entered into an agreement where the Kedong Ranch Ltd. granted them 4,000 acres and 10 million Ksh. The two of the four are from the Kitet Sossion Community and the other two are not from within the local community.

The agreement was done without the knowledge of the rest of the members of the Maasai peoples living in Kedong Ranch and it has caused division within the community. On 30 October 2019, a case was filed at the Court of Appeal to question the legality of the agreement between the four individuals and Kedong Ranch Ltd.

On 19 October 2019, Torome, Kerenke and six other petitioners filed another case at the High Court against Kedong Ranch Ltd., Kenya Railways Corporation, National Land Commission and the Attorney General of Kenya, a post currently held by Paul Kihara Kariuki. They are demanding recognition of their collective land rights and invalidating the land lease Kedong Ranch Ltd. The case was filed on behalf of the 4,000 Maasai families with a total population of 35,000 individuals living within Kedong Ranch.

The cases at the High Court and Court of Appeal are ongoing. Correspondingly, the threats and intimidations toward them never abated, and the disregard to their collective rights to their ancestral lands and self-determination also persists.

The decision of the courts will determine the future of the Maasai peoples living within Kedong Ranch. The community is hoping the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 will not affect the needed immediate and fair process of these two cases, including the ongoing cases of the five Maasai human rights defenders.

We call on the Government of Kenya to:

  1. Drop the charges against the five Maasai human rights defenders, Robinson Nalengoyo Ole Torome, Raphael Kerenke, Tima Kuronoi, Kingiri Kuronoi, and Oropi Kuronoi;
  2. Ensure a fair trial on the ongoing land ownership case between the Maasai peoples and Kedong Ranch Ltd. at the High Court and the case at the Court of Appeal questioning the legality of the agreement between the four individuals and Kedong Ranch Ltd., and suspend any development within the 75,000 acres of land in Kedong Ranch while cases at the High Court and Court of Appeal are ongoing;
  3. Undertake immediate and impartial investigations into the death of Jackline Nasinkoi Muntolol and ensure justice for her family;
  4. Protect the Maasai peoples from any further harassment, intimidations and threats from the police and representatives of the Kedong Ranch Ltd.;
  5. Comply with its international commitments and implement the recommendations of the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination to:
    1. Take measures without delay to operationalize the machinery and mechanisms for addressing land problems fairly, taking into account the historical contexts of land ownership and acquisition;[1]
    1. Prevent, investigate, prosecute and sanction acts threatening the physical security and property of indigenous peoples;[2]
    1. Ensure legal acknowledgement of the collective rights of the indigenous peoples to own, develop, control and use their lands, resources and communal territories according to customary laws and traditional land-tenure systems and to participate in the exploitation, management and conservation of the associated natural resources;[3]
    1. Carry out effective consultations between relevant actors and communities likely to be affected by projects to develop, conserve or exploit indigenous ancestral land or its natural resources and obtain the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities before implementing such projects.[4]

Please kindly sign this petition to support indigenous Maasai human rights defenders: https://www.iprights.org/campaigns/petitions/kenya-stand-with-maasai-land-defenders#_ftn1

Signatories:

  1. Alliance Nationale d’Appui et de Promotiondes Aires du Patrimoine Autochtone et Communautaire en République démocratique du Congo (ANAPAC RDC)
  2. Association québécoise des organismes de solidarité internationale (AQOCI)
  3. Brod Ecological Society-BED
  4. Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas
  5. Chepkitale Indigenous Peoples Development Project
  6. Coalition of European Lobbies on Eastern African Pastoralism (CELEP)
  7. Community Assistance In Development - COMAID
  8. Community Land Action Now!! (CLAN)
  9. Congrès Mondial Amazigh
  10. Dodoth Agro Pastoralist Development Organisation (DADO)
  11. Endorois Welfare Council
  12. Forest Peoples Programme
  13. Foundation of Sami Heritage and Development
  14. Global Diversity Foundation
  15. Green Development Advocates (GDA)
  16. IMPACT TRUST KENYA
  17. Indigenous Concerns Resource Center
  18. Indigenous Environmental Network
  19. Indigenous People Rights International
  20. Indigenous Peoples Global Forum for Sustainable Development, IPGFforSD (International Indigenous Platform)
  21. Indigenous peoples Socioeconomic Justice Organisation
  22. Indigenous Peoples' Center for Documentation, Research and Information - Docip
  23. Indonesian Traditional Wisdom Network
  24. International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)
  25. International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA)
  26. Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, Bangladesh
  27. Land for Life Sierra Leone
  28. Lawyers' Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP)
  29. Nagaland Community Conserved Areas Forum
  30. Nakuru county maa youth organization
  31. Narasha Community Development Community
  32. Natural Justice
  33. Nepal Kirat Kulung Bhasa Sanskriti Utthan Sangh (Kirat Kulu Guskham)
  34. Network of Indigenous and Local Communities for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC) - Afrique centrale
  35. Ngaaf
  36. Ogiek Peoples Development Program(OPDP)
  37. Papora Indigenous Development Association
  38. Pastoralist Development Network of Kenya
  39. Prabhav Tribal Development and Research Society
  40. Proyecto sobre Organización, Desarrollo, Educación e Investigación
  41. Pueblo Indigena Arhuaco
  42. Pueblo Shuar Arutam
  43. Resguardo Indígena de Origen Colonial Cañamomo Lomaprieta
  44. Sengwer of Cherangani Hills
  45. Single Mothers Association of Kenya
  46. SONIA for a Just New World
  47. The Jus Semper Global Alliance
  48. Union des peuples autochtones pour le réveil au développement
  49. University of Nairobi
  50. Water Justice and Gender
  51. Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network (CEMSOJ)
  52. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights DefendersEscuela Nacional Sindical
  53. Instituto de Formación Femenina Integral (IFFI)
  54. OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  55. International Accountability Project (IAP)
  56. Panaghiusa Philippine Network to Uphold Indigenous Peoples Rights


[1] [CERD/C/KEN/CO/1-4, para. 18]

[2] [CERD/C/KEN/CO/5-7, para. 20 (a)]

[3] [CERD/C/KEN/CO/5-7, para. 20 (b)]

[4] [CERD/C/KEN/CO/5-7, para. 20 (c)]


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