[JURIST] The African Commission on Human and People's Rights [official website] ruled [order, PDF] Thursday that the government of Kenya violated the rights of the Endorois [MRGI backgrounder] people when it forcibly evicted them from their land. The Endorois are a group of about 60,000 people who were removed from their land around Lake Bogoria in 1973 when the Kenyan government began developing the region. They were represented by Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) and the Kenyan organization Minority Rights Development [advocacy websites], which filed the initial complaint with the commission in 2003. The African Commission found that the government violated Articles 1, 8, 14, 17, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights [text], and ordered the government to take steps within three months to begin returning the land to the Endorois and providing them with compensation. A Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] lawyer representing the Endorois applauded the decision [press release], calling it "the first of its kind." Another lawyer for the Endorois, Korir Sing'Oei, praised [press release] the commission's decision:
This ruling is likely to further expose the inadequacy of Kenya's current constitution, which fails to accord protection to minorities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups. It will put pressure on those drafting the new constitution to put in place positive measures to address this glaring omission.
Kenya is currently in the process of revising its constitution [JURIST news archive], having unveiled a new draft [JURIST report] in November.
Other African peoples have faced similar land disputes with their governments, including the Botswana San, or Bushmen [SI backgrounder] people who were relocated by the government from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 1997. A spokesperson for a rights group representing the Bushmen announced [JURIST report] last month that they would take their land dispute case against the Botswana government to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website; JURIST news archive].