News & Analysis
The Legal and Policy Framework on Indigenous Knowledge in Kenya
By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), Winner of Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, ADR Publication of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021*
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 recognizes culture as the foundation of the nation and as the cumulative civilization of the Kenyan people and nation. In light of this, it obligates the State to, inter alia, promote all forms of national and cultural expression through literature, the arts, traditional celebrations, science, communication, information, mass media, publications, libraries and other cultural heritage; and recognize the role of science and indigenous technologies in the development of the nation. The Constitution provides that the State shall protect and enhance indigenous knowledge of biodiversity of the communities. The State is also obliged to encourage public participation in the management, protection and conservation of the environment. In doing so, the State is also obligated to supply the relevant environmental information.
Article 35(1) of the Constitution states that every citizen has the right of access to—(a) information held by the State; and (b) information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom. Access to Information Act, 2015, which is intended to give effect to Article 35 of the Constitution; to confer on the Commission on Administrative Justice the oversight and enforcement functions and powers and for connected purposes. It classifies environmental information as part of the information that falls under information affecting public interest. Such environmental information is necessary to enable communities make informed decisions. Thus decision-making processes should focus on the supply of the right information, incentives, resources and skills to citizens so that they can increase their resilience and adapt to climate change and other environmental changes.
Notably, sustainable development involves adoption of sustainable methods of managing conflicts and disputes. In settling land disputes, communities are encouraged to apply recognized local community initiatives consistent with the Constitution. This will enhance community involvement in natural resource management thus enhancing their participation in achieving peace for sustainable livelihoods. All these provisions encourage in one way or the other the participation of local communities in the management, use or ownership of natural resources and most importantly, using their indigenous knowledge as a knowledge reference point.
The Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions Act, 2016, which seeks to provide a unified and comprehensive framework for the protection and promotion of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions; and to give effect to Articles 11, 40(5) and 69 of the Constitution, recognises the intrinsic value of traditional cultures and traditional cultural expressions, including their social, cultural, economic, intellectual, commercial and educational value. While the Act does not expressly mention the words ‘sustainable development’, it provides that equitable benefit sharing rights of the owners and holders of traditional knowledge or cultural expressions shall include the right to fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the commercial or industrial use of their knowledge, which right might extend to non-monetary benefits, such as contributions to community development, depending on the material needs and cultural preferences expressed by the communities themselves.
Notably, 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under Goal 16 which seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, calls for states to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels. The SDGs also pledge to foster intercultural understanding, tolerance, mutual respect and an ethic of global citizenship and shared responsibility. They also acknowledge the natural and cultural diversity of the world and recognise that all cultures and civilizations can contribute to and are enablers of, sustainable development. The provisions in the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions Act, 2016 thus offer a rare opportunity for the state to realize the vision of the 2030 SDGs by incorporating Kenyan communities’ indigenous knowledge in the roadmap to the achievement of the sustainable development agenda. By including these communities and their knowledge, any development policies aimed to benefit these communities will be more likely to not only respond to their cultural needs and preferences but will also enable them meaningfully participate.
The Environmental Management and Conservation Act (EMCA) is the overarching law on environmental matters in Kenya. It is a framework environmental law establishing legal and institutional mechanisms for the management of the environment. It provides for improved legal and administrative co-ordination of the diverse sectoral initiatives in order to improve the national capacity for the management of the environment. Section 44 of the Act, mandates the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), in consultation with the relevant lead agencies, to develop, issue and implement regulations, procedures, guidelines and measures for the sustainable use of hill sides, hill tops, mountain areas and forests. It also requires the formulation of regulations, guidelines, procedures and measures aimed at controlling the harvesting of forests and any natural resources located in or on a hill side, hill top or mountain areas so as to protect water catchment areas, prevent soil erosion and regulate human settlement.
Section 46(1) requires every County Environment Committee to specify the areas identified in accordance with section 45(1) as targets for afforestation or reforestation. A County Environment Committee is to take measures, through encouraging voluntary self-help activities in their respective local community, to plant trees or other vegetation in any areas specified under subsection (1) which are within the limits of its jurisdiction. It is noteworthy that such afforestation may be ordered to be carried out even in private land. Paragraph (3) thereof is to the effect that where the areas specified under subsection (1) are subject to leasehold or any other interest in land, including customary tenure, the holder of that interest shall implement measures required to be implemented by the District Environment Committee, including measures to plant trees and other vegetation in those areas.
Under section 48, the Director-General with the approval of the Director of Forestry, may enter into any contractual arrangement with a private owner of any land on such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed for the purposes of registering such land as forest land. The powers of the Authority include the issuance of guidelines and prescribing measures for the sustainable use of hill tops, hill slides and mountainous areas. To promote environmental justice and community participation in environmental matters, section 48 (2) prohibits the Director-General from taking any action, in respect of any forest or mountain area, which is prejudicial to the traditional interests of the indigenous communities customarily resident within or around such forest or mountain area.
The general objectives of the Environmental Management and Co-ordination (Wetlands, River Banks, Lake Shores and Sea Shore Management) Regulation, 2009 (dealing with wetlands management) include, inter alia: to provide for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources in Kenya; to promote the integration of sustainable use of resources in wetlands into the local and national management of natural resources for socio-economic development; to ensure the conservation of water catchments and the control of floods; to ensure the sustainable use of wetlands for ecological and aesthetic purposes for the common good of all citizens; to ensure the protection of wetlands as habitats for species of fauna and flora; provide a framework for public participation in the management of wetlands; to enhance education research and related activities; and to prevent and control pollution and siltation.
Regulation 5(1) thereof provides for the general principles that shall be observed in the management of all wetlands in Kenya including: Wetland resources to be utilized in a sustainable manner compatible with the continued presence of wetlands and their hydrological, ecological, social and economic functions and services; Environmental impact assessment and environmental audits as required under the Act to be mandatory for all activities likely to have an adverse impact on the wetland; Special measures to promote respect for, preserve and maintain knowledge innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices; Sustainable use of wetlands to be integrated into the national and local land use plans to ensure sustainable use and management of the resources; principle of public participation in the management of wetlands; principle of international co-operation in the management of environmental resources shared by two or more states; the polluter-pays principle; the pre-cautionary principle; and public and private good. These are some of the initiatives that highlight the existing relationship between community indigenous and cultural knowledge and sustainable development, thus affirming the fact that cultural issues cannot be wished away in the discussion and efforts towards achieving sustainable development in Kenya and the world over.
*This is article is an extract from an article by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya): Muigua, K., Revisiting the Place of Indigenous Knowledge in the Sustainable Development Agenda, Available at: http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Revisiting-the-Place-of-Indigenous-Knowledge-in-the-Sustainable-Development-Agenda-Kariuki-Muigua-September-2020.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.
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Castro, A.P. & Ettenger, K., ‘Indigenous Knowledge and Conflict Management: Exploring Local Perspectives and Mechanisms For Dealing With Community Forestry Disputes,’ Paper Prepared for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Community Forestry Unit, for the Global Electronic Conference on “Addressing Natural Resource Conflicts Through Community Forestry,” (FAO, January-April 1996). Available at http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/ac696e/ac696e09.htm [Accessed on 14/7/2020].
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News & Analysis
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.
News & Analysis
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.
News & Analysis
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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