- In July 2020, Environment and Lands Court Judge Ann Omolo ordered that the residents be awarded Sh1.3 billion for deaths, sickness and damages caused by emissions from a lead-smelting factory.
- Over 3,000 people were affected among them over 50 death were recorded
Over 3,000 residents of Owino Uhuru slum in Mombasa will have to wait until March 17, 2023, in a case where they were to be awarded Sh1.3 billion compensation.
In a press release issued by Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action executive director Phylis Omido, the judgment to be made on February 17 has been pushed to March 17.
In July 2020, Environment and Lands Court Judge Ann Omolo ordered that the residents be awarded Sh1.3 billion for deaths, sickness and damages caused by emissions from a lead-smelting factory.
The residents had in 2016 filed a class action suit against the ministries of Environment and Health, National Environment Management Authority (Nema), Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA), Penguin Paper and Book Company and the lead smelting factory, Metal Refinery EPZ Ltd, seeking Sh2 billion as damages.
However, the case which has been in court for over three years has received setbacks as the Court of Appeal for the third time deferred the delivery of the judgement.
The judgement was initially supposed to take place on December 2, 2022, but that did not happen, the court pushed it to February 17, which has now turned to March 17.
Omido said the people of Owino Uhuru have been victimised all through the process of seeking justice.
"We strongly decry the move by the Court of Appeal. This is victimisation by another arm of government because many have died and many more await reprieve by way of access to much-needed health intervention and justice delayed is justice denied," she said.
She said that their confidence in the government and its ability to dispense justice is in question as demonstrated in the case.
In 2015, Omido said that they sought intervention from both houses of the National Assembly through a public petition where both houses came up with recommendations that were to be implemented by the state agencies to ensure effective remedies and access to justice for the victims.
She said that both houses in their recommendations tasked them to pursue compensation through the Judiciary as per Articles 42, 69 and 70 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
This was on the assumption that the task force set up by Parliament headed by Nema would have in good conscience remediated the community immediately in order to prevent loss of life and violations of the right to health and other socio-economic rights.
However, she said that regrettably, none of the state agencies acted as directed by both houses of Parliament.
She said that they successfully instituted and won Petition 1 of 2016 on behalf of the community in 2020.
Omido termed the case as a matter of public interest directly challenging the various arms of government towards their obligations and responsibility as public servants and the place of justice and the rule of law for the most vulnerable.
"This is a clear case of the public observing the rule of law even on their death bed while state agencies conspire to deny them justice even to their death," she said.
"We, therefore, express our utmost displeasure at this move by the Court of Appeal," she said.