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Statement by the Chairperson of the Permanent Forum on the eviction of Maasai people from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues expresses its profound concern over ongoing efforts to evict over 70,000 Maasai people of Loliondo division of the Ngorongoro district of Tanzania from the 1,500 square kilometers, which are legally registered village lands.

On June 8, the Permanent Forum received reports that Tanzanian police using force, including indiscriminate use of firearms, forcibly evicted the Maasai from their homelands, injuring dozens of people and causing thousands to flee into the forest. Various arbitrary arrests of community leaders, including Village Councillors and Chairpersons were also reported. These actions are a clear violation of the human and collective rights of the Maasai people of Loliondo.

Given these circumstances, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues calls on the government of Tanzania to immediately cease efforts to evict the Maasai people from the Ngorongoro conservation area as stated in the report of the 21st session in 2022 to be presented at ECOSOC.

Furthermore, the Forum calls on the government of Tanzania to comply with the provisions recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other relevant international human rights instruments, and ensure the right of the Maasai to participate in decision-making, considering that their land in Loliondo for safari tourism, trophy hunting and “conservation” will affect their lives and territory.

As affirmed in Article 10 of the UN Declaration “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible with the option to return.”

Additionally, the Forum urges the government of Tanzania to withdraw all armed forces; stop human rights violations, harassment and violence, bring perpetrators to justice; and allow journalists, lawyers, human rights observers and civil society organizations to enter Loliondo, speak with the affected Maasai and report on the situation without intimidation.

The removal of indigenous peoples from their lands, including the Maasai peoples, where they have been living for generations, will impact their survival.

* The Village Land Act of 1999 requires consultation procedures with Village Council and Village Assemblies in cases where evictions are deemed necessary. The Village Land Act also requires full, fair and prompt compensation.
* In 2018 the East African Court of Justice issued an injunction prohibiting the government of Tanzania from evicting the Maasai from the area.
* The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights decision in Center for Minority Rights Development (Kenya) and Minority Rights Group (on behalf of Endorois Welfare Council) v. Kenya states that the members should be consulted and their consent should be sought and obtained.

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