Kenya: Locals to seek UN's intervention to investigate alleged historical injustices by tea firms

Author: Nyabega Gisesa, Daily Nation (Kenya), Published on: 3 June 2019

"Kipsigis, Talai seek UN's help to fight tea firms"

Last Friday, a legal team representing the Kipsigis and Talai communities was making final preparations in their quest to file a case at the United Nations Human Rights Council over alleged abuses and illegal occupation of their land by British multinationals following the lapse of a deadline to settle the matter out of court. “We gave the British government until May 31 to come to the table for an arbitration process but they failed. Consequently, we are asking the UN to appoint a rapporteur to investigate cases of rape, burning of houses, forceful removal of populations and illegal and unlawful dispossession of ancestral land of the Kipsigis and Talai communities,” lawyer Kimutai Bosek, who is leading the team, told the Sunday Nation. Mr Bosek said that they will also file a case at the European Court of Human Rights. The Kericho County government is, among other things, demanding land occupied by the  tea estates in the dispute. If Governor Paul Chepkwony had his way, multinational tea companies would by now have paid the local community Sh2 trillion as compensation for illegal occupation of land belonging to the Kipsigis.

The money is what the county is demanding as mesne profits from 1902 to date. The battle for compensation and repossession of 200,000 acres occupied by the multinationals has dragged on in Kenyan and British courts for the past 15 years. The firms include James Finlay, Unilever, George Williamson, Sotik Highlands, Sotik Tea Company Limited, Changoi/Lelsa Tea Estate, Tinderet Tea Estate, Kaimosi Tea Estate, Kapchorua Tea PLC, Kipkebe Limited, Nandi Tea Estates, Kaisugu Limited and Emrok (EPZ) Tea Factory. [Also refers to Del Monte &  Kakuzi]

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Related companies: Del Monte Foods James Finlay (part of Swire) Kakuzi Unilever