Companies (both state corporations and private, local and international) have since time immemorial either conspired with or compromised governments(both local and international) in pursuit of profits without due regard to peoples rights, national interests and rule of law. This has deeply entrenched the cultures of corporate capture and impunity and occasioned untold injustices and violations in the society. It is on this basis we are issuing this statement to expose the systemic failures of the Government of Kenya's to hold to account Delmonte Kenya Limited over the many land injustices and human rights violations committed against the Kandara residents in Kiambu and Murangá Counties, among other groups in Kenya. These have remained unresolved despite the many constitutional, legal and policy safeguards.
To begin with, Article 67 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for a comprehensive resolution of historical land injustices in Kenya. Pursuant to this, Kandara Resident Association filed a historical injustice claim against Delmonte Kenya Limited. The case filed before the Commission’s Historical Land Injustices Committee in 2015, presented overwhelming evidence on the gross human rights violations that the colonial government and its imperial beneficiary(Kenya Canners then, now Delmonte) visited upon indigenous Africans living on their ancestral land in the form of ( a) Violent evictions and displacements, arson and enforced disappearances (b) Torture, Maiming and Killings (c)Mass Rape and Gender-Based Violence(d) Forced Labour, Slavery and Servitude (e) Inhuman and Degrading punishment. Such atrocities as defined in the Land Act and the National Land Commission Act provide a linkage between land injustices and human rights violations.
On 1st March 2019, the NLC gave an award to the community which recommended a participatory resurvey of all the land Delmonte owns in the two counties to determine whether the company occupies more land than what is on official records. The award further pronounced that in the event no such excess land exists, then, sufficient land to redress the historical land injustices of Kandara in both counties should be availed before renewal and extension of Delmonte Land leases.
In our follow up and separate engagements, on 19th November 2019, the National Assembly Committee on Land Administration issued a decree to the Cabinet Secretary(CS) for Lands and the Director of Survey to finalize an inclusive resurvey of the Delmonte land by February 27th 2020.
Today none of the above decrees by both executive and legislative arms of the government have been honoured by the same government that is supposed to protect and defend the constitution. Instead, the CS for Lands, the NLC, Muranga and Kiambu county governments have joined forces with Delmonte to defeat the constitutional rights of families of victims and survivors of historical land injustices.
Specifically, we call out Dr Nicholas Muraguri in his capacity as the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Lands for his inexplicable and blatant refusal to recognize and involve the Kandara residents and other stakeholders in the just concluded resurvey of Delmonte land. For his disregard for accountability and the rule of law, he epitomizes impunity in this country.
We also call out the Members of Parliament and County Governments (the Governors and Members of the County Assembly) in the two counties for conniving with Delmonte, Dr Muraguri and the Director of Survey of Kenya to undermine the resurvey process which ought to be inclusive and protective of the interests of the affected community and the country at large.
Last but not least, while we take note of the actions by the American Ambassador in Kenya which entailed a visit and donation of foodstuff to the affected community where he called for dialogue and a win-win framework of engagement, such expose a diplomatic tactic to cover the company (which is American by ownership) over its human rights obligations in this matter.
In view of the foregoing, it is clearly evident that if left unchecked, the actions by the afore-mentioned actors shall impact negatively on the quest for inclusive resolution of historical land claims not only for Kandara people but for millions of other Kenyans. Therefore, it is imperative that the National Assembly quickly moves in to demand accountability from the above agencies for their complacency.
We also call upon the U.S Ambassador to Kenya to advance the agenda for business and human rights in all economic and social programmes.
Meanwhile, we do not recognize the illegitimate resurvey exercise recently concluded and we shall use all available legal and political instruments to resist and reverse it.
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).
Ndula Resource Centre
Kandara Resident Association
Victims and Survivors of Historical Land Injustices and Human Rights Abuses
10th September 2020.