United Nations demands protection for Mombasa activists

Kenya Goldman environmental prize winner, Phyllis Omido explains a point at center for Justice office in Kilifi county. She won award in April this years. The award was given to her in United States of America. She is the founder member of Center for Justice, Governors and environmental action.15th October 2015. Photo Omondi Onyango/Standard

The government has been asked to protect four environmental human rights defenders in Mombasa.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Mr John Knox, said the activists have been assaulted and subjected to death threats.

The four went into hiding after filing a law suit against a lead smelter in the county earlier this month.

For years, the four have spearheaded calls for investigation into claims of lead poisoning from the battery smelter.

Emissions and effluent from the factory are believed to have poisoned dozens of residents, causing death and irreversible health damage and invited investigations by the Senate and government agencies.

However, no one has ever been held to account despite close to 10 years of agitation.


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In a statement to the government, Knox said the homes of the activists had been razed.


“All have been threatened with death. The twelve-year-old son of one of them was kidnapped earlier this week and held for three days before being released and dumped on the road side. All four are now living in hiding,” the statement dated February 24, 2017 said.

“Phyllis Omido and the other members of the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action are facing a life-or-death situation,” said Knox.

He added that the threats undermine the ability of ordinary Kenyans to seek environmental protection without fear.

“It is vital that the Kenyan government take action immediately to protect these environment defenders from violence and harassment,” said Knox.



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