This post originally appeared on The Hub, WITNESS’ website dedicated to human rights video footage, and can be found here.
In 1973, the Endorois community was evicted from their land by the Kenyan government to make way for a game reserve and tourist resort. The community struggled in their fight for reparations and restitution to their land. For many years their efforts were met with denial, harassment and further eviction to make space for mineral mining overseen and protected by successive Kenyan governments.
In 2009 the Endorois community took their claim to the highest regional human rights body, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), demanding recognition as a distinct indigenous group and asserting their basic human rights. WITNESS, in collaboration with the Centre for Minority Rights and Development (CEMIRIDE) provided a video, “Rightful Place: Endorois’ Struggle for Justice,” to help tell the personal stories of members of the Endorois community, and share the impact of displacement on individual identity and the community throughout the Endorois struggle.
“Rightful Place” was used as part of the evidence package in the case as video corroboration – the first ever use of video in this manner at the Commission. For some of the people in the video, this was the only way to bring their voices to the courtroom, as many of the Endorois elders were too old to travel.
The Commission ruled, in May 2009, that the Endorois’ eviction from their indigenous land for tourism development violated their human rights. The decision created a major legal precedent by recognizing, for the first time in Africa, indigenous peoples’ rights over traditionally owned land and their right to development.
On February 4, 2010, in a landmark decision, the African Union adopted the decision by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, therefore making the Kenyan government legally bound to compensate the Endorois and restitute their lands. This ruling continues to provide minorities across Africa with new hope that their struggles might be recognized, their lands returned, and their rights respected and upheld.
The decision made by the Commission and the African Union exemplified an occasion where hard work, partnership, and passion resulted in a clear, undeniable and momentous victory that affected, and continues to affect, thousands of people.
We are simply overjoyed by this success – and honored to share it with the Endorois and CEMIRIDE – as well as fellow campaign partners Minority Rights Group International. Take a moment to watch the Endorois story, a video that we will now gladly edit to include a new ending.