Microjustice Kenya (MJK) is lead by consumer rights advocate Angela Ondari, who with a staff of 7 provides legal services to the poor. Services include assistance obtaining identity documents, registration of businesses and cooperatives, simple contracts, wills and inheritance issues and alternative dispute resolution. MJK partners with numerous organizations including the Law Society of Kenya and Kenyatta University Legal Aid Clinic formed by law lecturer Leonard Aloo Obura in concert with the Law Students Association which assisted small traders in the marketplace. Mr. Obura is now affiliated with the University of Nairobi where he teaches business organizations.
NATURAL JUSTICE: SAVE LAMU
A Public Interest Action: Case No. 01/2012.
1. Client Identification, location and relevant case background.
Save Lamu is a Kenyan community-based coalition of local non-government organisations that formed in response to the decision by the Kenyan government to develop a massive port in Lamu without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) or meaningful consultations with communities impacted by the development. The port is being constructed on land with contested tenure, will have a significant impact on the delicate environment, and will have a significant negative impact on the livelihoods of numerous communities in Lamu. Save Lamu has sought to make it explicit that it is not against the port in all forms, but is seeking to ensure that the port is developed according to feedback from a credible environmental, social and cultural impact assessment and the demands of affected communities. A petition to this effect has been filed at the Mombasa Constitutional Court, but the legal challenge has been stalled repeatedly and remains difficult for the community to engage with.
At the community level, Save Lamu has been very active in mobilising community engagement around the port. With Natural Justice’s support, Save Lamu is developing a Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP), an instrument where communities identify their values and practices and ground them in protections under international and national law. Through the BCP process Save Lamu has canvassed over 45 communities in Lamu East and West and is now collating the results of the meetings to develop a BCP. Parallel to these meetings Natural Justice has supported legal capacity training to increase community understanding of rights. The construction of the port began in early 2012 but it is still in early stages. Save Lamu is attempting to engage with relevant stakeholders to ensure that community concerns are addressed.
2. Legal issue (s)presented:
The primary issue presented is the development of a major port without an environmental impact assessment or community consultation and consent. While the port’s development is being challenged in court, this challenge will move slowly and even if it is successful it is unlikely that the government will acknowledge it. The challenge, therefore, is to advance a rights-based engagement with government actors parallel to the court petition to seek a productive solution with community consultations prioritised for the port’s development and a credible environmental impact assessment conducted and incorporated into the development plan.
3. Why the clients require legal aid:
Save Lamu and its members require legal aid in establishing clear rights to have their input incorporated in port development plans and using those rights to productively engage with relevant stakeholders. This legal aid will include legal empowerment trainings for community leaders, facilitation in identifying community demands, and legal support in dialoguing with port decision-makers.
4. Counsel’s advocacy strategy:
5. Assistance requested from local Counsel from lawyers in other Jurisdictions:
A) Funding for the following;
i) Legal empowerment trainings presenting the BCP to representative community meetings, detailing the legal rights that underpin the BCP and identifying clear community demands to shape the port’s development;
ii) Meetings facilitated by Natural Justice between Save Lamu leadership and community leaders to determine a clear set of demands for the port’s development;
iii) Facilitated meetings between relevant government representatives and Save Lamu leadership to clearly articulate community interests and their legal underpinnings and possible productive solutions.
6. Counsel’s certification