Kakuzi’s parent company issues US$6.3m worth of settlements following alleged human rights abuse

KENYA – The Brirtish owner of the vast Kenyan plantation company, Kakuzi Limited has undertaken financial compensation to the 85 victims of alleged rape and violence perpetrated by Kakuzi’s employees.

According to the parent company Camellia Plc, it has paid £4.6m (US$6.3m) in relation to the Kenyan case, alongside £2.3m (US$3.1m) issued to similar allegations brought against its Malawian subsidiary, Eastern Produce Malawi (EPM).

The settlements in Kenya follows a lawsuit filed on behalf of the victims at London’s High Court by law firm Leigh Day, accusing Camellia Plc for turning a blind eye to systematic human rights abuse by its subsidiary’s employees for a period of 11 years since 2009.

The settlement, according to Kakuzi clears the path for investigations into the allegations and prosecution of any individual offenders found culpable.

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“Kakuzi continues to commit to working with the local investigating authorities with a view to ensuring that any offenders who may be identified during these investigations are prosecuted, our community is protected, and victims receive not just reparations but justice,” indicated Kakuzi on an update.

In October 2020, Kakuzi began the development of an Operational Grievance Mechanism (OGM) to enhance the timely and sensitive resolution to grievances that any of its stakeholders may have concerning the company .

The OGM will be fully compliant with UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and will be a fair, transparent and an independent means to resolve any complaints of personal injuries connected to Kakuzi’s operations.

It is being developed with extensive consultation with local communities and an independent, internationally recognized human rights consultancy organization, Triple R Alliance is taking the lead on this.

To this end, Leigh Day has agreed not to act in further claims against the company for a significant period.

“Leigh Day, however, will be able to continue to represent individuals against the Camellia Group companies and Kakuzi should the OGM not meet the high standards which Kakuzi has confirmed that it will meet,” the law firm stated.

“Kakuzi continues to commit to working with the local investigating authorities with a view to ensuring that any offenders who may be identified during these investigations are prosecuted, our community is protected, and victims receive not just reparations but justice.”

Kakuzi

Other goodies in the package

The settlement is intended not only to resolve the claims themselves, but also to help Kakuzi to strengthen its relations with the local communities through a myriad of activities.

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“Although not party to the litigation or the settlement, Kakuzi has confirmed that it will be putting in place certain measures, for the benefit of the communities on and around its farm,” the multinational said.

Over the years Kakuzi has made a number of land excisions from its titles. These include areas now used for markets, government offices, trading centers, schools, churches and police stations.

To this end, the Company will establish a Technical Working Group to complete the excision process where still outstanding.

Furthermore, it will construct three additional private roads through its property to shorten the distance for community to access a number of public amenities. 

To ensure security, they will recruit a group of predominantly female safety marshals from the local community to oversee the use of its private roads and footpaths by members of the public.

The company will further implement a number of solar street lighting projects to improve security.

In addition, they will enhance their work with the local community to facilitate access to sustainable fuel wood and to increase the use of energy saving stoves.

Of key importance to Kakuzi is the ability to maintain its close working relationships with the neighbouring communities by appreciating their concerns especially regarding the impact of our operations.

In that regard, they will construct two community halls to allow for regular meetings to take place between our community liaison team and community members.

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