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Leigh Day and the Kenya Human Rights Commission host regional conference on Access to Remedy

On 9 October 2018 Leigh Day, together with the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), hosted a one day regional conference on Access to Remedy in Nairobi, Kenya.

Posted on 12 November 2018

The conference was a side event to the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability’s (ACCA) 2018 General Assembly and was well attended by activists, NGOs and lawyers from across the continent. 

The conference began with a keynote address by George Kegoro, Executive Director of the KHRC, and then proceeded to presentations on ‘Persistent & Emerging violations in key sectors of Kenya’. Mary Kambo, also of the KHRC, gave a presentation focussing on the wide ranging issues arising from Kenya’s horticulture, tea, coffee, sisal and sugar sectors. Edgar Odari, Executive Director of Econews Africa, then followed with a presentation on the issues arising from Kenya’s emerging and growing extractives sector.  

Leigh Day partner and Head of the International Department, Richard Meeran, then shared lessons learnt from his extensive experience of litigating against UK multinational companies, with a particular focus given to his experiences litigating cases arising from South Africa’s mining sector.

In the afternoon, respected Kenyan advocates John Ohaga, Managing Partner at TRIPLEOKLAW Advocates LLP, and Elisha Ongoya, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Public Law, and Head of the School of Law, at the Kabarak University School of Law, spoke from their experiences and gave presentations on the challenges in accessing remedies/justice in Kenya. 

Leigh Day partner Daniel Leader then drew from his experiences litigating environmental and human rights cases from Nigeria, Zambia and Mozambique to provide attendees with an overview of how such cases can be brought. Leigh Day solicitor David Roberts then shared his experiences of litigating claims arising from Kenya’s agricultural sector.

The conference was concluded with a question and answer session with a panel composed by a selection of the conference’s speakers. 

Leigh Day partners Richard Meeran and Daniel Leader, as well as solicitor David Roberts, then attended the ACCA 2018 GA, which this year was focussed on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). 

The ACCA GA was opened with keynote addresses delivered by Ms Raya Ahmed from Save Lamu Community and Ms Hannah Owusu-Koratgeng from Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM). Over the two day ACCA 2018 GA speakers and attendees from across the continent and beyond shared experiences and attended global peer learning sessions.   

Speaking after the conference and ACCA 2018 GA, Leigh Day solicitor David Roberts said:

“Recent high profile cases in national courts, such as the claim brought by Mombasa slum dwellers for compensation for damage allegedly caused by lead poisoning from a local battery factory, are encouraging and show the effectiveness of an emerging and vibrant network of national and international activists, NGOs and lawyers committed to tackling business and human rights complaints. 

"But it was evident from the presentations and experiences shared at both our conference and the ACCA 2018 GA that despite all that good work across the continent, there is still widespread corporate impunity that it is having devastating impacts upon both people’s lives and the environment. 

"Whilst progress is undoubtedly being made to provide access to remedy to the people harmed by that misconduct, there is plainly still much to be done and a requirement for even greater communication and collaboration between all those committed to fighting these abuses to ensure that all those that need help find it.“