Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Led by Commissioner and Vice Chair Mr. George Morara held fruitful discussions with Save Lamu Staff at the latter offices in Lamu Island on 18th March 2016. The Commission was pleased with Save Lamu work for advocating for sustainable and responsible development including advancing environmental rights as well as its advocacy work on Lamu Port and South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport ( LAPSSET) project and the yet to be established the proposed Imported Coal Power Plant.
“We are very much disturbed by the archaic way in which land identification was done in Kwasasi, where individuals were told to stand on their piece land, denying legitimate land owners a chance to present their title deeds for records and processing ”, stated Mr. George Morara.
The KNHCR has previously been greatly supportive to securing natural resource rights in Lamu in the past. They were instrumental in partnering with Save Lamu to lobby for information and compensation for farmers in the gas exploration in Lamu Island by Zarara in 2012. They also provided various legal, advocacy and technical support in the advocacy for the Environmental Impact Assessment and land compensation for the Lamu Port construction.
Some of the concerns during the visit were reports that the Lamu Coal plant compensation list had ghost landowners and reports that people were coerced to sign compensation forms without consent and understanding critical details. It was noted that a human rights impact assessment is lacking to go hand in hand with the ESIA.
Furthermore, of concern was also the on-going dredging activities carried out by LAPSSET Authority where no mitigation plans have been put in place yet, and therefore pose a disaster risk to fishermen and boat operators.
The visit comes at a very critical time where the need to advance partnerships and community engagements among human rights actors is vital to ensure efforts are concerted and fundamental human rights guaranteed by the constitution are protected.
The outcome of the discussion established a good working rapport among the two organizations that agreed upon increasing community linkages and sharing of information as well as ensuring proper documentation of injustices and human right abuses regarding Lamu Coal power plant are highlighted and addressed.