KENYA: Local Communities Must Equitably Benefit from Resources, have Their Rights Protected, Church Says

NAKURU, SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 (CISA) – “The Catholic Church driven by the option for the poor and common good principles holds that the local communities should benefit from the resources equitably and their rights protected. Policies and legislation should therefore secure communities interest and Transnational Corporations (TNCs) held accountable for their actions,” Rt. Rev. John Oballa Owaa, has appealed to members of the Kenyan National Assembly.

The Chairman of Commission for Promotion of Integral Human Development at the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) also lobbied the parliamentary Department Committee of Environment and Natural Resources to petition the Government to fervently participate in the upcoming 2021 United Nations Binding Treaty deliberations to protect local communities from exploitation and abuse of human rights.

In an address to the committee, read on his behalf by Fr Nicholas Makau, the Chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) for the Religious Superiors Conference of Kenya (RSCK), the bishop observes that experience from Kenya indicates that TNCs can and do infringe on human rights with cases of environmental degradation, displacements, inadequate compensation, and land grabbing.

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ngong also noted that currently there is no binding rule for corporations on Human Rights.

“On one hand, with the complicity of states that are interested in guaranteeing that they are “attracting investment”, transnational corporations have been covering themselves with a solid armour made up of free trade and investment protection agreements and their respective sanctioning mechanisms. On the other hand, violations of human rights and the rights of peoples and nature have become inherent to transnational corporations’ operations, as well as systematic,” he said.

The 2021 United Nations Binding Treaty negotiations will take place in Geneva from November 25 to 29.