Kenya: Local community seek UN inquiry for alleged historical land injustices where tea farms operate; includes Unilever's comment
Author: AFP, Published on: 31 October 2019
"Kenya community pushes for UN inquiry into tea land theft"
Kibore Cheruiyot Ngasura was just a small boy when his family was violently expelled from their ancestral land in Kenya's lush tea-growing western highlands by British colonisers, and banished never to return...Fed up with being ignored, the Kipsigis and Talai peoples have urged a United Nations special investigator to open an inquiry into their plight. British and Kenyan lawyers representing the victims will on Wednesday make their first visit to Kericho since filing an official complaint with the UN, accusing the UK government of failing to account for this colonial-era injustice...
Today, many Kipsigis and Talai live as squatters, humiliated and landless, generations after their forebears were exiled from Kericho's verdant slopes, land known locally as the "White Highlands". Most possess nothing more of their past than chunks of pottery and other fragments, unearthed surreptitiously from beneath the tea fields: proof, they say, that their people once lived there...A spokesman for Unilever Kenya Ltd said by email they would not comment on colonial-era claims against the UK. Williamson Fine Tea, and James Finlay Limited, two other multinationals with major tea estates in Kericho, did not reply to requests for comment.
In March, they scored a rare victory when Kenya's National Land Commission ruled that the Kipsigis and Talai did suffer injustices, and recommended the UK apologise. But efforts to broker dialogue have not been successful, said Joel Kimutai Bosek, a Kipsigis lawyer representing the community. The UK has faced a slew of compensation claims from across its former empire, including from Kenya...Rodney Dixon QC, a British lawyer representing the Kipsigis and Talai who is visiting Kericho this week, said the UN special rapporteur could assist in mediating a settlement. Mr Salvioli has vast experience investigating long-past historic abuses. "This is a precedent that could equally apply here," Dixon told reporters in Geneva in September.