Settlement of claims against Camellia Plc of allegations of serious human rights abuses in Kenya
Posted on 14 February 2021
AAA v (1) Camellia Plc (2) Linton Park Plc (3) Robertson Bois Dickson Anderson Ltd:
In 2019 and 2020, 85 claims were brought in London against Camellia Plc and its subsidiaries, Linton Park Plc and Robertson Bois Dickson Anderson Limited (referred to below as the “Companies”). Those claims were based on allegations of serious human rights abuses against local residents by security guards employed by Kakuzi Plc (“Kakuzi”), a company within the Camellia group based in Kenya.
The legal claims were brought with the support of and in conjunction with the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the Ndula Resources Centre.
Leigh Day are pleased to announce that a wide-ranging and innovative settlement has been agreed between the parties following productive and mutually beneficial discussions.
The settlement agreement includes the following:
- The Companies have agreed to the payment of financial compensation to the 85 victims. The sums in question remain confidential to the victims.
- Kakuzi has confirmed that it will develop and implement an Operational-level Grievance Mechanism (‘OGM’) to allow any other allegations of human rights abuses to be resolved fairly and quickly without need to go to court. Triple R Alliance, a leading human rights and OGM consultancy, will review, guide and oversee the OGM. An Independent Monitor will also observe and report on the OGM. The aim is to implement the OGM within 12 to 18 months.
- The building of three new roads, two of which cross Kakuzi’s land, which will be accessible by motorable vehicle without any requirement to obtain a licence, thereby allowing the communities better access to local amenities and services.
- The employment of around 30 predominantly female Safety Marshalls on Kakuzi's farm to give visible reassurance to those using access routes and in particular vulnerable women over the next three years.
- The establishment of a Technical Working Group to survey and properly demarcate over 150 acres of land which has been previously donated by Kakuzi. Kakuzi will endeavour to complete this survey over the next two years.
- The funding of charcoal kilns and access to firewood so local communities can produce and sell sustainable charcoal for their own income generation over the next three years.
- The construction and provision of staff at two social centres for community meetings to be located at Kinyangi and Munyu.
- The design and implementation of a human rights defenders policy, to be implemented within 12 months.
Leigh Day have agreed not to act in further claims in Kenya against the companies 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.
Leigh Day would like to pay tribute to the courage of our clients. Kakuzi have made it clear that they will not tolerate any intimidation or harassment of the victims or human rights defenders. Human rights organisations will be monitoring the situation carefully to ensure that Kakuzi complies with those intentions.
We also wish to pay tribute to our partners the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, the Ndula Resources Centre and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) for their tireless work supporting the Claimants and the wider community in Murang’a County.
Daniel Leader, partner at Leigh Day, commented:
“The settlement the parties have reached provides individual compensation for the claimants, who have claimed damages as victims of human rights abuses, but also guarantees a substantial package of additional measures which will help the numerous communities which surround the Kakuzi farm.
“Most importantly, Kakuzi has agreed to construct three new roads which will significantly improve the ability of local residents to access local public services and amenities. Kakuzi has also agreed to put in place a comprehensive grievance mechanism which will deal with any other human rights complaints in the future and will be subject to independent oversight. The Claimants hope and anticipate that this settlement will lay the foundation for an improved dialogue and relationship between Kakuzi and their communities in the future.”