Industry

Kakuzi adopts UN policy on human rights violations

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A Security guard stands at the entrance of Kakuzi PLC offices in Muranga County on October 14, 2020. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

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Summary

  • The company said the policy is being reviewed with employees, key partners, human rights defenders and the community before rollout.
  • Beset by claims of human rights violations, Kakuzi last August appointed former Attorney-General Githu Muigai to lead its human rights reforms.
  • The firm had been sued in the United Kingdom for alleged human rights abuses, exposing it to the risk of hefty fines and reparations to the victims.

Listed agricultural firm Kakuzi is adopting a new human rights policy based UN principles to enhance the transparency of its operations and cut cases of human rights abuses at its property in Murang’a County.

The company said the policy is being reviewed with employees, key partners, human rights defenders and the community before rollout.

“This year, Kakuzi undertook a robust consultation process to evaluate its grievance mechanism system (SIKIKA) in order to inform the need, viability and functionality of the establishment of an effective Operational Grievance Mechanism (OGM),” said the firm in an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report for 2020.

“As recommended by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OGM has incorporated safeguards such as confidentiality, privacy, rights compatibility, equity and transparency into its processes.”

Beset by claims of human rights violations, Kakuzi last August appointed former Attorney-General Githu Muigai to lead its human rights reforms as part of the agricultural firm’s settlement of alleged abuses including rape and violence.

He now chairs the company’s newly created Independent Human Rights Advisory Committee (IHRAC) that will provide technical advice to the board of directors.

The firm had been sued in the United Kingdom for alleged human rights abuses, exposing it to the risk of hefty fines and reparations to the victims.

Kakuzi’s parent firm Camellia Plc earlier this year disclosed it had paid Sh696 million to settle claims of alleged human rights abuses perpetrated by employees in its Kenyan agricultural operation.

The amount includes payouts to victims of alleged violence and rape as well as remedial investments in the local community in Murang’a County where Kakuzi runs its agricultural business.

The multinational also paid Sh348 million to settle similar allegations brought against its Malawian subsidiary, Eastern Produce Malawi (EPM), raising its total spend on the human rights row to Sh1 billion.

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