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  • on 13.03.2012
  • at 06:48 PM
  • by Randa Ghazy

Kenya: report paints grim future for minority groups 0

NAIROBI – On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Kenya’s independence, many minority and indigenous communities feel increased ethnicization of politics has deepened their exclusion, making their situation worse today than it was in 2005.

The report, released in Nairobi Friday by Minority Rights Group International (MRG) reviews the current status of minority and indigenous groups in Kenya, particularly how legal and policy changes over the last five years have responded to the social, economic and political challenges confronting them. The report appreciates some constitutional gains, but calls on the Kenyan government to embrace pluralism and take special measures in support of minority and indigenous communities.

The report titled Kenya at 50 says despite adoption of a new Constitution in 2010, very little has changed in the way the Kenyan state approaches the question of minorities. It calls for improved governance, poverty alleviation and an end to discrimination faced by minority and indigenous peoples through inclusion in key political, constitutional and development process.

Many minority and indigenous groups feel issues affecting them, such as drought and state-induced landlessness to pave the way for industrialization, are not receiving enough media attention. ‘During this period, forced evictions and other forms of harassment have continued to plague many minority and indigenous communities, in absolute disregard of the new Constitution,” says Marusca Perazzi, MRG Governance Programme Coordinator.

The report highlights that charges of trespass in Rift Valley against pastoralist groups in Samburu and Naivasha, have increased whenever they seek access to grazing grounds, even in what are considered community lands. It calls for improved dialogue and strengthen citizen voice in favour of the struggle for the minorities to secure their rights.

Daniel Kobei, Executive Director of Ogiek People’s Development Programme (OPDP) says laws being considered for adoption by parliament show total lack of commitment to ensuring that minorities are a functioning part of the new Kenya, creating fears that their recognition may not translate into real positive legislative and administrative developments.

For many years, the Ogiek have suffered displacement or been threatened with eviction from their ancestral lands, in particular Mau Forest and around Mount Elgon. Other pressing examples in report include Nubians in Kibera, who face periodic violence pitting them against harsh landlords from majority communities, forced demolitions, evictions and an unclear citizenship status in Kenya.

“To further show how minorities suffer unfair disadvantage in law and in practice, the Kenyan government is reluctant to restore ownership to Endorois people of their ancestral lands around Lake Bogoria National Reserve, as recommended by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights two years ago,” the report concludes .

By George OkoreNews from Africa

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