NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The United Nations human rights experts on
Wednesday urged Kenya to urgently take measures to protect
defenders who have faced harassment and intimidation after they
testified against a local lead smelter accused of environmental
The four UN rights
experts said Alfred Ogola, Wilfred Kamencu, Anastacia Nambo and
Kavumbi Munga and several others have been subjected to threats
following the first hearing against the plant on May 17.
“Unknown people have
visited their homes at night repeatedly banging on their doors,
yelling at them to come out of their house. One of them had been
attacked with an unknown substance which caused eye problems and
swelling,” said the experts in a joint statement.
John H. Knox,
Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Michael
Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights
defenders, Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications
for human rights of the environmentally sound management and
disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, and Anita
Ramasastry, chair of the UN Working Group on human rights and
transnational corporations and other business enterprises said
cases of lead poisoning have been reported in the area near the
The UN experts said
the four Kenyans are due to testify again in a class action
lawsuit against the government and the lead smelter for
violating the right to a healthy environment guaranteed under
Article 42 of the Constitution of Kenya.
This is the third
time UN experts have called on Kenya to protect and promote the
rights of the environmentalists.
The UN experts said
they officially relayed their concerns to the government in
2014, 2017 and again last week but the government has not
responded on any occasion.
defenders should not face threats, harassment, and intimidation
when they are exercising their rights legitimately through a
legal action. On the contrary, they should be championed for
upholding the Constitution of Kenya,” the experts said.
The UN rights
experts called on the government to urgently launch a proper
investigation and bring those who are responsible to justice.
Many of them have
reported these threats to police, the experts said, however
investigations appear slow and inadequate. The defenders fear
for their safety and life, and are seeking for help to be