June 7, 2012: International NGOs Intervene to Prevent Human Rights Violations and Environmental Damage in Kenya

Publish Date: 
Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR), the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and Katiba Institute have intervened as amici curiae before the High Court of Kenya in a legal challenge of the Lamu Port - Southern Sudan - Ethiopia Transport project.

The GI-ESCR and CIEL were brought into the case through the ESCR-Net Adjudication Working Group, an international network of organizations working in the area of economic, social and cultural rights, and Katiba Institute is a Kenya-based NGO.

The case, led by SAVE Lamu, a consortium of local organizations on the Kenyan coast affected by the Project, is brought because the Project violates or threatens to violate international law including the right to development, environmental protection, and economic, social and cultural rights including the rights to adequate housing, food, water, sanitation and health. The GI-ESCR and CIEL bring international law arguments into the case.

Korir SingOei, Litigation Director of Katiba Institute, which was also enjoined in the suit, welcomed the intervention, saying that "the expertise of these three organizations will help the court deploy better international and comparative law in interrogating the nature of violations of social economic rights of the petitioners in line with Kenya's new progressive constitution."

The Project includes construction of a large-scale sea port at Manda Bay as well as rail lines, oil pipelines and a refinery at Lamu, Kenya, all of which detrimentally impact the coastal environment as well as over 4,000 persons living in Lamu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

According to Marcos Orellana, Director of the Human Rights and Environment Program at CIEL, "Failure to conduct proper environmental and social impact assessments or to obtain the free and prior informed consent of the communities affected by this Project is clear evidence of a violation of the right to a healthy environment."

To date, those detrimentally impacted by the Project have not been able to meaningfully participate in decisions related to the Project, and information necessary for their participation has not been made available.

Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the GI-ESCR added that "Not only is access to information crucial for the active, free and meaningful participation of affected communities, but it's also essential in order to hold donor countries accountable to their extraterritorial obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights."

The case will come up before the High Court of Kenya at Malindi on June 25th, 2012 when a motion to have the case determined before a three-judge bench will be considered since the case raises substantial questions of constitutional and human rights law.

Contact Information:

Bret Thiele Email: Bret@globalinitiative-escr.org Phone: +1.218.733.1370

Marcos A. Orellana Email: morellana@ciel.org 1350 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite #1100 Washington, DC 20036 Phone: +1.202.742.8740

Korir Sing'Oei Email: Abraham.singoei@gmail.com K-REP Bulding, Wood Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya Phone: +254.722.776.994