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Kenya: CSOs & Law Firm file complaint against Unilever with UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights & UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human rights on behalf of victims of Kericho Violence

“ALLEGATION AGAINST UNILEVER PLC TO THE UNITED NATIONS WORKING GROUP ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS and THE UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON EXTREME POVERTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS”, 28 July 2020

… In December 2007, during post-election turmoil, large groups of attackers invaded the Unilever plantation, assaulting hundreds of workers and their families solely based on their ethnicity. Seven people died in the attacks, many others were raped and seriously hurt. The survivors still suffer from physical and psychiatric injuries.

The complaint makes three allegations against Unilever:

  • Unilever placed the victims in a position of significant risk of attack on their plantation and yet has refused to provide adequate redress or assistance to the victims…
  • After the violent events, Unilever failed to provide appropriate assistance to the victims and instead unilaterally stopped their wages for a six-month period, further exacerbating their situation.
  • Facing a specific request for remedy from the 218 victims of ethnic violence in 2016 in the form of a civil claim for damages against Unilever in England, the company refused any remediation and sought to block any prospect of access to remedy by hiding behind its corporate structure … while knowing that these claims could not be brought in Kenya.

The complaint submits that each allegation constitutes a serious breach of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which Unilever enthusiastically endorses and claims to adhere to.

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