Kenya: civil society decries inaction against Big Tobacco

11 Jan 2016


In a statement issued by Samuel Ochieng, CIN’s Chief Executive Officer, the complaint against BAT follows the bribery allegations revealed by a BBC documentary on 30 November 2015.

“We’ve always been aware of BAT’s efforts to connive with policy makers to infringe our 2007 Tobacco Control Act. The documentary provided us with obvious evidence,” Mr Ochieng said.

Complaint handed over

On 5 January more than 60 civil society representatives walked in procession from Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park to Integrity House, premises of the EACC, where the formal complaint was handed to Michael K. Mubea, EACC Deputy Secretary.

Speaking to the EACC representative, Mr Ochieng said the commission should immediately launch an investigation of BAT for corporate corruption. “Other than the individuals involved, BAT as a company cannot be left to continue violating anti-corruption laws in Kenya. We want appropriate action against BAT, including possible closure,” Mr Ochieng added.

Civil society in Kenya hopes that by lodging a formal complaint, the EACC will finally take action against Big Tobacco in Kenya.

Investigation needed

In fact, the objective of the complaint is to get the EACC to “launch a public investigation into BAT’s corrupt activities in Kenya,” said Joel Gitali, Chairman of the Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance.

“We must crack down hard on corruption by making BAT pay for their inhumane practices in Kenya, and in the entire East African community,” added Joel passionately.

Former civil society representative in the Kenyan Tobacco Control Board, Ms. Nancy Gachoka, also joined the call-to-action and expressed “deep regrets” for EACC’s inaction despite “obvious evidence of BAT’s violation of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act”.

Corruption ‘central’ to BAT

She insisted that corporate corruption is the “central pillar” of BAT’s marketing strategy in Africa.

A series of dramatic events have occurred in Kenya since the adoption of Tobacco Control Regulations in 2014, which, once implemented, will enforce the 2007 Tobacco Control Act and further Kenya’s compliance with its obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

In April 2015 BAT sued the Ministry of Health for passing the 2014 Regulations, claiming that the Ministry of Health violated due process procedures under the Constitution by not consulting with them. The Government continues to fight BAT’s lawsuit in court.

‘Make BAT Pay’

International public health organizations have expressed their support by launching an online petition to ‘Make BAT Pay’ for sabotaging lifesaving laws in East Africa.

The petition, which has over 30,000 individual signatories from across the world, was launched to express the international community’s solidarity with the people of Kenya and to commend Kenyan civil society for standing up for justice against BAT’s corporate corruption.

According to EACC’s procedures, all complaints received by the commission undergo rigorous analysis, and those found to fall under the Commission’s jurisdiction are investigated. After the investigations are complete, the file is sent to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) who is responsible for taking the matter to court.

“We shall not stand by and watch the compromise of justice. We shall follow up and make sure the complaint moves from the EACC to the DPP and to court,” Mr Ochieng concluded.

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