Victories in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

October 10, 2001 -- The High Court in Mombasa has ruled in favor of local farmers and the environment and halted plans by a Canadian company to mine titanium near Kenya`s Indian Ocean coast. In Dar es Salaam, a court is protecting residents from the impacts of a landfill that was located near a residential suburb: the judge ordered a halt to dumping at the site. In Uganda, advocates are making progress on efforts to protect citizens from smoke in public places. Advocates called on the E-LAW network for help winning these important victories. We congratulate attorney Gikandi Ngibuini in Kenya, the Lawyers` Environmental Action Team in Tanzania and The Environmental Action Network in Uganda for their hard work pursuing justice for local communities. *** Kenya *** Attorney Gikandi Ngibuini is representing scores of farmers in Kwale who want to protect the environment and their farms from proposed plans by Tiomin Resources Inc. to deforest and mine titanium eight miles from Kenya`s Indian Ocean coastline. Ngibuini says Tiomin offered the local farmers a small amount of money to vacate their homes. The farmers declined the offer and filed a case in High Court. The farmers feel the mining would degrade the local environment and release radioactive uranium and thorium. The High Court issued a preliminary injunction on September 21, halting the project. A full hearing of the case will take place in November. *** Tanzania *** Advocates at the Lawyers` Environmental Action Team (LEAT), home of E-LAW Tanzania, are representing residents of Vingunguti (near Dar es Salaam) who became ill after living near a dump site imposed on their residential suburb. LEAT attorney Vincent Shauri says the dump site was established without an environmental impact assessment. "Its location is contrary to the City Commission`s own master plan," he says. The city solicitors raised preliminary objections, hoping to win the case on technicalities. Most of these objections were overruled and the judge issued an interim injunction temporarily stopping the City Commission and its agents from dumping waste at the residential site until the full case can be heard. *** Uganda *** Advocates at The Environmental Action Network (TEAN) in Uganda are working to protect non-smokers` right to life and a clean and healthy environment. TEAN asked the High Court of Uganda at Kampala to require the Attorney General and the National Environmental Management Authority to restrict smoking in public places. The British American Tobacco Company (BAT) attempted to join the case in order to help the government defeat TEAN`s petition. BAT argued that a ban on smoking would violate BAT`s constitutional right to do business in Uganda. The court agreed with TEAN`s argument that BAT`s business interests in Uganda were not the subject of the suit and that BAT is not directly affected by the outcome of the suit. The court said BAT cannot join the suit. The case will now proceed with TEAN representing the public interest. TEAN member Andrew Kasirye says, "This is a great victory! With BAT out, we can now determine this matter in the best interests of public health."