Stories of Change (Legal Aid): 2021 - 2022

SHORT STORIES OF CHANGE

The following are just a few of the stories of change recorded by the KHRC in the last two years (2021 and 2022). During the reporting period, KHRC received many reports of human rights violations ranging from labour rights violations, damage to private property, arbitrary arrests to denial of the right to education, among others as highlighted below:

  • Civic space protected

Eight parents arrested on 8th February 2022 for protesting against the defilement of a student at St. Aquinas were released at a record thirty minutes after KHRC's intervention. On third February 2022, a Form 1 boy at St. Aquinas High School was defiled but sent away from school on claims that he had school fees balance. The mother on finding out about the defilement organized a demonstration after her attempts to have the matter addressed at the school failed. Despite following all legal processes under the law pertaining to holding demonstrations and serving a notice on the OCS, Central Police Station, police officers descended on the unsuspecting parents and arrested them. The parents were released after the KHRC intervened.

  • Right to Education Protected

John Njuguna, a Form Four student at Dagoretti High School in Nairobi, was immediately readmitted to school a day after KHRC demanded his immediate reinstatement as he had been suspended unlawfully. This was following a complaint to KHRC that he had been suspended by the school administration on 21st June 2021 for refusal to yield to corporal punishment. Noteworthy, corporal punishment is illegal under Section 18 of the Children’s Act No. 8 of 2001 and the suspension was therefore a violation of the student’s right to education.

  • A Widow’s Plea

The in-laws of Esther Kasyoka, who was widowed following a grisly road accident on 16th June 2021, surrendered her deceased husband's burial permit after intervention from KHRC on 30th July 2021. Esther was not able to claim compensation from her deceased husband’s insurance company because she lacked a police abstract. For the police to issue the abstract, she had to submit a copy of the burial permit which had been confiscated by her sister-in-law. She had made several attempts to have the in-laws surrender the burial permit but her efforts bore no fruits. The in-laws were also unwilling to hand over any other documents that Esther may have needed in the process until the KHRC intervened.

  • The Right to Housing Affirmed

John Ndwiga, a resident of Meru County, was given access to his house after KHRC conducted a mediation between him and his landlord and an agreement was arrived at to pay rent arrears in instalments. John had not paid his rent for two months due to the hard economic times brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the landlord, through his agents had denied him access to the house until the arrears were fully settled.

  • Because Labour Rights are Human Rights!

Anthony Njuguna received Kshs. 120,000 as the payment of his unpaid dues after KHRC issued a letter on 6th June, 2021 demanding payment of his salary arrears. Anthony's employer, James Waweru, terminated his contract in April 2021, on allegations of gross misconduct and declined to pay his salary arrears.

  • Right to fair labour practices affirmed

Early this year, Alloice Opiyo received a settlement of Kshs. 1,071,388.62, the amount being inclusive of salary arrears, three months' salary in lieu of notice, and salary in lieu of leave from his former employer, South Nyanza Sugar Company Limited. This was after KHRC conducted a mediation and followed up on the payments through correspondences, phone calls and meetings between Alloice and the company. Alloice had been unlawfully terminated from employment in November 2020, without pay on allegations of gross misconduct and insubordination. It was KHRC’s intervention that ensured the employee’s labour rights were protected.

  • KURA Rebuilds a Fence

In February 2022, Kenya Urban Roads Authority, KURA rebuilt and reconstructed a fence they had destroyed after KHRC contacted the KURA Regional Head and explained the land rights violations that had been committed. KHRC demanded for reconstruction of the fence. KURA engaged a surveyor, land registrar and the community as requested by KHRC and confirmed that they had encroached on the land. This was following a call on 13th January 2022, from Nyamira County reporting that the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) had encroached on a neighbouring piece of land while doing road construction and had destroyed the fence harbouring the property.

  • Finally at home!

Eunice Nyanganyi was safely returned to the country on 12th July 2022 after she had been stuck in Saudi Arabia due to the loss of her identification documents and tracking number. She had travelled to the country to work as a domestic worker. While working in Saudi Arabia, Eunice fell sick and was taken to hospital. Unfortunately, her condition worsened due to administration of wrong treatment. Eunice sought deportation but her employer was adamant in following up on the processes. KHRC conducted follow ups and contacted the National Employment Authority as well as the Kenyan Embassy in Saudi Arabia through calls and emails. The Embassy was able to trace her tracking number through their portal and facilitated the deportation process. Upon her return, Eunice noted that the support by the KHRC not only enabled her to seek proper medical attention in Kenya but also to reunite with her family.

  • Home at last

KHRC secured the return of James Kisuko, who travelled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2013 for work and was detained due to a traffic offence he allegedly committed. Follow ups were conducted and letters were sent to both the National Employment Authority and the Kenyan Embassy in Saudi Arabia. James had been acquitted in 2021 but was wrongfully held under detention within the Jizan region. Owing to intervention by KHRC, James was deported to Kenya on 7th September 2022.

  • Unpaid dues paid

The KHRC successfully conducted a mediation on the 4th of November 2022, for the settlement of the final dues of Gillian and Lydia at Ksh 31,500 and Ksh 55,500 respectively, after their employer accused them of stealing and dismissed them from work. Lydia and Gillian, who were two former employees of Mike Kariuki visited the legal aid clinic on 18th October 2022. They were employed as domestic workers before being accused of falsely stealing a bag and some money which led to their arrest and summary dismissal by the employer.

  • Compensated!

Mike Paul Esonga was granted orders by the court following a ruling on an application drafted by KHRC seeking prohibitory orders preventing the sale of his property. A caution was also placed on the property after KHRC advised him to place a caution on the property and to register it at the land registry pending hearing of the application. The caution was successfully registered by the Registrar.

This was after he came to us on 13th September 2022, seeking assistance in drafting the court documents. Under Civil Suit No. E4182 of 2017, Mike had brought a lawsuit against the respondents at the Milimani Law Courts, seeking compensation amounting to six hundred thousand shillings (Kshs. 600,000) as damages. The Plaintiff had been injured in a car accident that had him hospitalized for months. After the respondents consistently failed to appear, the Court granted an interlocutory judgment in Mike's favor. The Court had granted the decree, and the money sought would be paid using the proceeds from the sale of the respondents' land. Mike was worried that the respondent would sell the property before execution which would prevent him from getting compensated.

  • Human Rights Defenders Released

Four demonstrators (Ojiambo, Minoo, Anthony and Nahashon) were arrested and illegally detained for protesting over the increased cost of living ahead of the national budget reading in Nairobi on 8th April 2022. KHRC, with the assistance of a pro bono advocate intervened when the HRDs were arraigned in court and secured their release.

  • Compensation at Last!

Through KHRC’s consistent follow up on pending compensation, Mama Mary was recently paid Kshs. 3.5M in October this year. The KHRC in partnership with the community and Kwale Human Rights Network (HURINET) has been pursuing this matter since out of the total 7M payable compensation; Base Titanium had paid the elderly lady only half of the amount and had withheld the remaining compensation in a bid to frustrate her since her son was among the key petitioners in petition No. 39 of 2019. This petition by 14 families challenges the discrimination by Base Titanium in compensating families affected by its mining activities. In addition to compensating Mama Mary, the General Manager of Base Titanium has reached out to the petitioners for a possible out of court settlement of the pending compensation claims. KHRC and Kwale HURINET are currently supporting the petitioners in this process.

Author: Domnic Odipo


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