By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert in Kenya)*
There is currently no singular or universally accepted definition of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC), no agreement on what a FPIC process must entail, and no functional clarity about what constitutes ‘consent’, with authors arguing that consent and associated processes should be determined locally. As such, there exist a number of definitions of FPIC. For instance, some authors suggest that an FPIC process should be grounded in the degree to which livelihood and culture are dependent on customary lands, rather than application being strictly tied to indigeneity.
Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) has been defined by some as ‘the principle that indigenous peoples and local communities must be adequately informed about projects in a timely manner and given the opportunity to approve (or reject) a project before operations begin.’ This includes participation in setting the terms and conditions that address the economic, social, and environmental impacts of all phases of extraction and post-extraction operations.’ It is also contended that communities should have the right to continue to provide informed consent, or alternatively to withdraw consent, during the implementation of the project, in line with agreed procedures.
FPIC is a right for indigenous peoples and it is also viewed as a principle of best practice for sustainable development, used to reduce social conflict as well as to increase the legitimacy of a project in the eyes of all stakeholders and rights holders. It is also seen as a requirement, prerequisite and manifestation of the fundamental, inherent right of indigenous peoples to self-determination. From the foregoing definition, it is thus arguable that FPIC broadly falls within public participation but from an informed point of view and without any coercion either from the State or the investor or developer.
Article 10 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples guarantees that indigenous people should not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return. Article 28 of the Declaration further provides that Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.
Some scholars regard FPIC as an aspect of environmental justice and a tool for poverty alleviation. In the context of environmental justice, FPIC is believed to empower indigenous communities by providing them access to environmental justice, which concept mandates that all people, regardless of their race, origin or income, have the ability to “enjoy equally high levels of environmental protection. FPIC also gives the most vulnerable members of society a platform from which they can express their rights. Within the context of the rights of indigenous peoples, FPIC requires that consent must be freely given and that the decision must be made after indigenous peoples have been educated about the project.
Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration provides that environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. It further provides for access to information by the public. At the national level, each individual must have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States must facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, must also be provided.
Public participation is, therefore, an essential principle in natural resources management. However, public participation is hampered by factors such as financial cost of engaging the public, time constraints, fear that participants may not be truly representative and belief that citizens lack knowledge of complex technical issues. In determining who falls within the category of the people to be consulted seeking FPIC, the ‘public’ in public participation is used to refer to individuals acting both in their roles as citizens, as formal representatives of collective interest or affected parties that may experience benefit or harm or that otherwise choose to become informed or involved in the process.
The label ‘public’ is often used to refer to individual citizens or relatively unorganized groups of individuals but should be expanded to include the full range of interested and affected parties including corporations, civil society groups, technocrats and even the media. Four categories of the public must be considered when deciding whether or not the ‘public’ has been involved. These are: stakeholders who are organized groups that are or will be affected by or that have a strong interest in the outcome of the decision; the directly affected public who will experience positive or negative effects from the environmental decision; the observing public which includes the media and opinion leaders who may comment on the issue or influence public opinion; and the general public who are all individuals not directly affected by the environmental issue but may choose to be part of the decision making process.
Courts have rightly pointed out that public participation is an established right in Kenya; a justiciable one – indeed one of the corner stones of our new democracy. In addition, Kenya’s jurisprudence has firmly established that Courts will firmly strike down any laws or public acts or projects that do not meet the public participation threshold. This was the holding in Mui Coal Basin Local Community & 15 others v Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy & 17 others  eKLR. In Hassan and 4 others v KWS  1KLR (E&L) 214 the court described the public as “those entitled to the fruits of the earth on which the animals live” when stating that there was no express consent from the community allowing KWS to translocate the rare hirola antelope from their land.
Further, in Mada Holdings Ltd t/a Fig Tree Camp v County Council of Narok  eKLR, the court gave a much wider description of the public by stating that it is “the individual who has sufficient interest in the issue over which the public body is exercising discretion, or where the exercise of that discretion is likely to adversely affect the interests of the individual or even where it is shown that the individual has a legitimate expectation to be consulted before the discretionary power is exercised.” FPIC requires that during the negotiation process, indigenous groups are made aware of their rights over their ancestral lands, the risks associated with the project, and the relationship between their rights and their access to natural resources, which the community may be dependent upon for sustenance.
It has been observed FPIC is not just a result of a process to obtain consent to a particular project; it is also a process in itself, and one by which Indigenous Peoples are able to conduct their own independent and collective discussions and decision-making. This is to be achieved in an environment where they do not feel intimidated, and where they have sufficient time to discuss in their own language, and in a culturally appropriate way, on matters affecting their rights, lands, natural resources, territories, livelihoods, knowledge, social fabric, traditions, governance systems, and culture or heritage (tangible and intangible).
*This is article is an extract from an article by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD: Muigua, K., “Maximising the Right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent for Enhanced Environmental Justice in Kenya,” Available at: http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/ 2019/03/Maximising-the-Right-to-FPIC-in-Kenya-Kariuki-Muigua-29th-March-2019. pdf. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is Kenya’s foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua is recognized as one of the leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts by the Chambers Global Guide 2021 and nominated as ADR Practitioner of the Year (Nairobi Legal Awards) 2021.
Dietz t. & Stern, P.C., (eds), Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making, (National Academies Press, 2008)15.
FAO, Free Prior and Informed Consent: An indigenous People’s right and a good practice for local communities, Manual for Project Practitioners, 2016. Available at http://www.fao.org/3/a-i6190e.pdf [Accessed on 19/11/2021].
Mckeehan, A. and Buppert, T., “Free, Prior and Informed Consent: Empowering Communities for PeopleFocused Conservation,” Harvard International Review, Vol. 35, no. 3 (2014): 48.
Muigua, K., Kariuki, F., Wamukoya, D., Natural Resources and Environmental Justice in Kenya, Glenwood Publishers, Nairobi – 2015;
Muigua, K. and Kariuki, F., ‘Towards Environmental Justice in Kenya,’ Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Volume 1, No 1, (2017). 14.
Mullins, D. and Wambayi, J., , “Testing Community Consent: Tullow Oil project in Kenya,” Oxfam Briefing Paper, Oxfam International, November 2017, available at https://oi-files-d8-prod.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/file_attachments/bp-testing-community-consent-tullow-oil-kenya-081117-en.pdf [Accessed on 19/11/2021].
Owen, J.R. and Kemp, D., “‘Free Prior and Informed Consent’, Social Complexity and the Mining Industry: Establishing A Knowledge Base,” Resources Policy, Vol.41 (2014): 91-100.
Oxfam International, “Securing Communities’ Right to ‘Free Prior and Informed’ Consent in Kenya’s Extractive Sector,” Wednesday, November 8, 2017. Available at https://kenya.oxfam.org/latest/policy-paper/securing-communities%E2%80%99-right-%E2%80%98free-prior-and-informed%E2%80%99-consent-kenya%E2%80%99s-extractive [Accessed on 19/11/2021].
Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio De Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992).
Senach, S.L., ‘The Trinity of Voice: The Role of Practical Theory in Planning and Evaluating the Effectiveness of Environmental Participatory Process,’ in Depoe, S.D. et al, (eds), Communication and Public Participation in Environmental Decision Making (SUNY Press Ltd., 2004) 13.
Sena, K., Operationalizing Free, Prior and Informed Consent within REDD+ Projects in Kenya,’ Case study, 2014. Available at https://communitylegalresources.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/ci_fpic-case-study_kenya.pdf [Accessed on 19/11/2021].
Zvobgo, T., “Free, Prior, and Informed Consent: Implications for Transnational Enterprises,” Sustainable Development Law & Policy 13, No. 1 (2013): 8.
Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal
Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania has sued the lender seeking reinstatement or be compensated for illegal sacking almost three years ago. Lawyer Kania was the KCB Group company secretary until restructuring of the lender in 2021 that saw some senior executives dropped.
Through the firm of Senior Counsel Wilfred Nderitu, Kamau wants the court to order KCB Group to unconditionally reinstate him to employment without altering any of the contractual terms until his retirement in December 2025.
In his court documents filed before Employment and Labour Relations Court, the career law banker seeks the court to declare the reorganization of the company structure a nullity and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution. He further wants the court to declare that the position of Group Company Secretary did not at any time cease to exist within the KCB Group structure.
He further urged the Employment Court to declare that the recruitment and appointment of Bonnie Okumu, his former assistant, as the Group Company Secretary, in relation to the contemporaneous termination of his employment, was unprocedural, insufficient and inappropriate to infer a lawful termination of his employment.
“A declaration that the factual and legal circumstances of the Petitioner’s termination of employment were insufficient and inappropriate to infer a redundancy against him, and that any redundancy declared by the KCB Group in relation to him was therefore null, void and of no legal effect and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.
Kamau says he was subjected to discriminatory practices by the KCB Bank Group in violation of his fundamental right to equality and freedom from discrimination as guaranteed in Article 27 of the Constitution and the termination of his employment was unfair, unjustified, illegal, null and void.
Lawyer Kamau further seeks the court to declare that the Non-Compete Clause in the 2016 Contract is unenforceable by the KCB Group as against him and is voidable by him as against the Bank ab initio, byreason of the termination of the Petitioner’s employment having been a violation of Articles 41(1) and 47(1) and (2) of the Constitution, and of the Employment Act.
He also wants the Employment Court to find that finding that KCB’s group legal representation by Messrs of Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates law firm in respect of his claim for unlawful termination of employment resulted in a clear conflict of interest by reason of the fact that a Founding and Senior Partner at the said firm lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga is also the Chairman of the CBK’s Board of Directors.
“A Declaration that the circumstances of KCB’s legal representation by Messrs. Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates resulted in a violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to have the employment dispute decided independently and impartially, as guaranteed in Article 50(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.
Kamau is seeking damages against both KCB Group and Central Bank of Kenya jointly and severally for the violation of his constitutional and fundamental right to fair labour practices.
He wants further wants court to declare that CBK is liable to petitioner on account of its breach of statutory duty to effectively regulate KCB Group to ensure that KCB complied with the Central Bank of Kenya Prudential Guidelines and all other Laws, Rules, Codes and Standards, and that, as an issuer of securities, it complied with capital markets legislation.
Kamau through his lawyer Nderitu told the court that he was involved in Shareholder engagement in introducing the Group aide-mémoire that significantly improved the management of the Annual General Meetings, including obtaining approval without voting through the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Kenya Commercial Bank Limited among others.
He said that during his employment at KCB Bank Kenya and with the KCB Group, he initially worked well with former KCB CEO Joseph Oigara until 2016 when the CEO allegedly started sidelining him by removing the legal function from his reporting line.
He further claims he was transferred from the Group’s offices at Kencom House to its offices Upper Hill under the guise that the Petitioner was merely to support the KCB Group Board.
He adds that at that point his roles were given to Okumu for reasons that were not related to work demands. He stated that Oigara at one time proposed that he should leave his role in the KCB Group and go and serve as the Company Secretary of the National Bank of Kenya Limited, a subsidiary of the Group, a suggestion which he disagreed with to Oigara’s utter annoyance.
Kamau stated that his work was thenceforth unfairly discredited, leading to his being taken through a disciplinary process whose intended outcome failed miserably, and the Petitioner was vindicated.
“More specifically, the Petitioner contends that the purported creation of a new organizational structure towards the end of 2020 was in fact Oigara’s orchestration targeted to remove certain individuals by requiring them to undergo interviews in the pretext that new roles were created, and amounted to a further violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to fair labour practices under Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” said in his court documents.
He further adds that this sham reorganization demonstrates how the role of the KCB Group Company Secretary purportedly ceased to be and was then very briefly replaced with a new role of the KCB Group General Counsel. The role of KCB Group Company Secretary then ‘resurfaced’ immediately thereafter, in total violation of legal and regulatory requirements.
Court of Appeal Upholds Eviction of Radcliffes from Karen Land
The Court of Appeal has stayed the decision of the Environment and Land Court purporting to reinstate Adrian Radcliffe into possession of the 5.7 Acre Karen Land by Kena Properties Ltd after eviction by the lawful owners in February 2022. Adrian Radcliffe who was evicted by Kena Properties Ltd, the innocent purchaser of the Land for value.
Before his eviction, Mr. Radcliffe had been living on the land as a squatter expatriate for 33 years without paying any rent. Since he moved into the property as a tenant, he only paid deposit for the land in August 1989 despite corresponding severally with the owner of the land. His attempt to acquire the land by adverse possession claim filed in 2005 was dismissed by Court in 2011 on the basis that he has engaged with the owner of the land July 1997 and agreed to buy the land which he failed to do. The High Court [Justice Kalpana Rawal as she then was] concluded that:
“His [Mr. Adrian Radcliffe] averments that he did not have any idea of the whereabouts of the Defendant and that he could possibly be not alive, were not only very sad but mala fide in view of the correspondence on record addressed by him to the Defendant’s wife. I would thus find that the averments made by him to the contrary are untrue looking to the facts of this case.”
On 10th March 2022, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe and Family purported to obtain court orders for reinstatement into the land. However, the Court of Appeal issued an interim stay of execution of the said orders. The Court of Appeal has now granted the application of Kena Properties Ltd and stayed the execution of the Environment and Land Court Order pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal.
The Court also stayed the proceedings at the Environment and Land Court on the matter during the pendency of the Appeal. In effect, the eviction orders issued by the Chief Magistrate Court for eviction of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe in favour of Kena Properties as the purchaser of the property for value were upheld and the company now enjoys unfettered ownership and possession of the suit property until the conclusion of the Appeal.
The Court of Appeal in granting the orders sought by Kena Properties Ltd concurred with Kena Properties Ltd that as the property owner it had an arguable appeal with a high probability of success which would be rendered nugatory if Adrian Radcliffe a trespasser was to resume his unlawful possession of the suit property, erect structures thereon, recklessly use or abuse the said suit property as he deems fit. In any case, that is bound to fundamentally alter the state of the suit property and render it unusable by Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner.
At the same time, the Appellate Court rubbished the argument of Adrian Radcliffe in opposition to the application for stay that he has been in occupation of the suit property for more than 30 years and that he and his family were unlawfully evicted from the suit property on 4th February, 2022. The Court also rejected Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties Ltd has no valid title to the suit property and held that as the purchaser, the company was entitled to enjoy ownership and possession of their property during the pendency of the appeal.
The Court dismissed claims of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe that Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner acquired title to the suit property illegally and unprocedurally finding to the contrary. Further, it rejected Adrian Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties as the purchaser cannot evict a legal occupier of a property putting paid to the claim that he was a legal occupier at the time of eviction.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe cannot claim to be the legal occupier of the property having attempted to acquire it by adverse possession before the High Court thwarted his fraudulent scheme on 28th February 2011. Mr. Radcliffe did not appeal the 2011 High Court decision meaning it is still the law that he is not the owner of the land nor the legal occupier of the land having attempted to adversely acquire against the interests of the lawful owner who sold it to Kena Properties.
Mr. Adrian Radcliffe is a well-to-do Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) UNICEF consultant and former UN employee (who has been earning hefty House Allowance). Many have wondered why he has been defaulting in paying rent for 33 years on the prime plot of land in Karen while living large and taking his kids to most expensive schools in Kenya. No question, a local Kenyan could never have gotten away with such selfish impunity.
Review: Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 9, No. 1
The Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Volume 9, Issue No. 1, which is edited by and published by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD is out and stays true to the reputation of the journal in providing a platform for scholarly debate on thematic areas in the fields of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development. The current issue published in September 2022 covers diverse topics including Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in Africa; National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya; Protection of Cultural Heritage During War; The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya; Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya; Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation; Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World; Status of Participation of Women in Mediation; Business of Climate Change and Critical Analysis of World Trade Organization’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment.
Dr. Wilfred A. Mutubwa and Eunice Njeri Ng’ang’a in “Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in an Integrating Africa: An Appraisal of the Role of Regional Arbitration Centres” explore the nature of disputes in the realm of oil and gas in Africa taking a look into the recent continental and sub-regional developments in a bid to establish regional integration. Additionally, it tests the limits of intra-African trade and dispute resolution and the imperatives for the African regional courts and arbitration centres. In “National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua discusses the role played by the National Environment Tribunal (NET) in promoting access to justice and enhancing the principles of sustainable development in Kenya. The paper also highlights challenges facing the tribunal and proposes recommendations towards enhancing the effectiveness of the tribunal.
Dr. Kenneth Wyne Mutuma in “Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of War: A Case for History,” argues that cultural heritage is at the heart of human existence and its preservation even in times of war is sacrosanct. It concludes that it is thus critical for states to take positive and tangible steps to ensure environmental conservation and protection during war within the ambit of the existing international legal framework. In “The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya,” Jack Shivugu critically evaluates the role of water in the attainment of sustainable development in Kenya and argues water plays a critical role in the attainment of the sustainable development goals both in Kenya and at the global stage. The paper interrogates some of the water and Sustainable Development concerns in Kenya including water pollution, water scarcity and climate change and suggests practical ways to enhance the role of water in the Sustainable Development agenda.
Dr. Paul Ogendi in “Collective Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya,” reflects on property rights in relation to human biological materials obtained from research participants participating in genomic research. He argues that property rights are crucial in genomic research because they can help avoid exploitation or abuse of such precious material by researchers. In “Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua notes that Wetlands have a vital role in not just delivering ecological services to meet human needs, but also in biodiversity conservation. Wetlands are vital habitat sites for many species and a source of water, both of which contribute to biodiversity protection. The paper examines the role of wetlands in biodiversity conservation and how these wetland resources might be managed to improve biodiversity conservation.
Oseko Louis D. Obure in “Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World,” preponderance of disputes between States or States and Investors created need for a robust, effective, and efficient mechanisms not only for the resolution of these disputes but also their prevention. He notes that developing states lead in being parties to Investor-State Disputes (ISD) particularly as respondents. He proceeds to conceptualize and problematize investor-state disputes resolution in a fast-paced world. Lilian N.S. Kong’ani and Dr. Kariuki Muigua in “Status of Participation of Women in Mediation: A case Study of Development Project Conflict in Olkaria IV, Kenya” review the status of participation of women in mediation to resolve conflicts between KenGen and the community. The paper demonstrates a need for further democratization of the mediation processes to cater for more participation of women to enhance the mediation results and offer more sustainable resolutions.
Felix Otieno Odhiambo and Melinda Lorenda Mueni in “The Business of Climate Change: An Analysis of Carbon Trading in Kenya analyses the business of carbon trading in the context of Kenya’s legal framework. The article examines the legal framework that underpins climate change into the Kenyan legal system and provides an exposition of the concept of carbon trading and its various forms. Michael Okello, in “Critical Analysis of World Trade Organisation’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment: Prospects, Challenges and Emerging Trends in the 21st Century,” highlights the rationale behind MFN treatment and also restates the vision of multilateral trade to achieve equitable and special interventions with respect to trade in goods, services and trade related intellectual property rights in the affected states.
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Review: Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 9, No. 1
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