Antécédents de l'affaire: Joel Ogada
L'audience de Joel Ogada se déroulera le 13 septembre 2016, suite à une pétition constitutionnelle déposée en son nom contre la Kurawa Salt Mining Company.
Le 25 mai 2016, les avocats de CJGEA ont déposé une plainte constitutionnelle contre Kurawa Salt Mining Company au nom de Joel Ogada et sa famille, affirmant que l'entreprise avait violé leurs droits. La prochaine audience a été fixée au 13 septembre 2016.
Le 15 mars 2016, après avoir été arrêté le 14 mars 2016, le défenseur M. Joel Ogada a été accusé de menace de meurtre. Le défenseur a été libéré de détention préventive le matin même.
Joel Ogada est paysan et membre du Malindi Rights Forum (MRF), qui œuvre pour la protection du droit à la terre des paysans à Marereni, dans le comté de Kilifi. L'établissement des entreprises de l'extraction du sel sur la côte a provoqué un conflit entre les résidents et les usines de sel. Les paysans affirment qu'ils ont été expulsés et déplacés des terres ancestrales par les usines. Les leaders de communautés et les défenseur-ses des droits humains sont menacés, arrêtés et victimes d'acharnement judiciaire.
On 15 March 2016, following his arrest on 14 March 2016, human rights defender Mr Joel Ogada was charged with threatening to kill.
Joel Ogada is a farmer and member of the Malindi Rights Forum (MRF), working to protect land rights of farmers in Marereni, Kilifi County. The establishment of salt extraction companies along the coastline in the region has raised conflict between residents and the salt factories. Local farmers claim they have been evicted and displaced from ancestral lands by the factories. Community leaders and human rights defenders have been threatened, arrested and subjected to judicial harassment. Joel Ogada has been one of the strongest voices denouncing illegal evictions and land grabbing by the Kurawa Salt Mining Company and advocating against corporate impunity.
The human rights defender was arrested on 14 March 2016 at approximately 6pm by Marereni police officers in the Kanagoni area and then taken to the Marereni Police Station, where he stayed until the following morning when he was taken to the Malindi Law Court. Joel Ogada was formally charged with threatening to kill a security guard of Kurawa Salt Company, under section 223 of the Penal Code, even though the human rights defender was nowhere near the security guards of the Salt Company at the time of the alleged threats. The human rights defender was released on bail that same morning.
The arrest of Joel Ogada comes only six months after being released from prison on 16 September 2015 after his arrest on 17 February 2013 on fabricated charges of committing arson. On 16 May 2014 he was convicted to seven years' imprisonment – a sentence that was later reduced in appeal to two years.
Joel Ogada has been involved in a land dispute with Kurawa Salt Mining Company since 2011, when he was accused of farming on lands belonging to the Company. The land he was farming has belonged to his family for many generations. The case was later dismissed as Joel Ogada failed to attend two court hearings because he was in detention. Following this decision the Salt Company demolished Ogada's house and the human rights defender has been fighting to refile this case since his release in September 2015.
Front Line Defenders expresses concern for the arrest of Joel Ogada, as it believes the actions against him to be directly motivated by his legitimate human rights work denouncing land grabbing and illegal evictions committed by Kurawa Salt Mining Company. Further concern is expressed at charges brought against the human rights defender and the continuous judicial harassment to which he is subjected.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Kenya to:
- Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Joel Ogada, as Front Line Defenders believes that he is being prosecuted solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;
- Cease any forms of judicial harassment against Joel Ogada;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kenya are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
On 13 March 2015, the conviction of human rights defender Mr Joel Ogada was upheld on appeal, but the sentence was reduced to two years' imprisonment, one year of which has already been served.
Joel Ogada is a farmer and member of the Malindi Rights Forum (MRF) working to protect land rights of farmers in Marereni, Kilifi County. The establishment of salt extraction companies along the coastline in the region has raised conflict between residents and the salt factories due to claims by the farmers that they have been evicted and displaced from ancestral lands by the factories. Community leaders and human rights defenders have been threatened, arrested and been the subject of judicial harassment.
The court in Malindi ordered that the sentence should run from the date of the human rights defender's conviction on 16 May 2014. The human rights defender had previously been convicted to seven years' imprisonment for arson. Joel Ogada had appealed this decision amid concerns about the fairness of the trial; the human rights defender did not have legal representation until late in the trial when MRF was able to acquire support from the East Africa Law Society for counsel.
Front Line Defenders welcomes the reduction of the prison term against Joel Ogada, but reiterates its concern at the conviction, which it believes to be solely related to his peaceful and legitimate human rights work.
On 16 September 2014, human rights defender Mr Joel Ogada appeared before a magistrate at the Malindi Law Courts to seek release on bail pending the hearing of his appeal. The court did not render a decision immediately, postponing the ruling to 6 October 2014.
The Principal Magistrate court in Magarini had found the human rights defender guilty of arson under Section 332(a) of the Penal Code on 18 February 2013. This conviction was connected to an incident whereby one of the salt factories had caught fire in unclear circumstances. The human rights defender's conviction was upheld by a court in Garsen in May 2014, when he was sentenced to 7 years' imprisonment. Joel Ogada subsequently appealed this decision amid concerns about the fairness of the trial; the human rights defender did not have legal representation until late in the trial when MRF was able to acquire support from the East Africa Law Society for counsel.
In his appeal papers, Joel Ogada maintained his innocence and raised concerns that the defence had not been granted the opportunity to cross-examine the key prosecution witness – a man who worked for the salt company as a night guard at the time of the incident. This witness claimed to have seen Joel Ogada on the company premises in the middle of the night, telling the court that the fire produced sufficient light for him to distinctly identify Joel Ogada at the scene.
On 2 July 2014, Joel Ogada's lawyer filed a bail application in court and served the same at the office of state counsel. On 4 September 2014, the day on which the court had scheduled the hearing of this bail application, the state counsel requested postponement of the hearing after explaining to the court that he had not had enough time to review the application. The magistrate rescheduled the hearing for 16 September 2014.
On 16 September 2016, the hearing on the bail application proceeded as planned. In his submission, Ogada's lawyer based his argument on a number of points including the fact that Joel Ogada is not a flight risk, he poses no risk to society, and that he would be willing to comply with any bail condition. Furthermore, his family has no source of income while he remains in detention. Responding to the defence's arguments, the state counsel suggested that Joel Ogada would abscond if released. However, the state counsel did not elaborate on his assertions.
Closing the hearing, which lasted less than thirty minutes, the magistrate announced that she will render her decision on 6 October 2014.
On 16 May 2014, human rights defender Mr Joel Ogada was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for a conviction of arson. The human rights defender denies the charges and plans to appeal the conviction.
A court in Garsen upheld the conviction of Joel Ogada of arson under Section 332(a) of the Penal Code. The Principal Magistrate court in Magarini had found the human rights defender guilty on 18 February 2013. The human rights defender plans to appeal the decision and will request bail pending the hearing.
Concerns have been raised regarding the fairness of the trial, as Joel Oganda did not have legal representation until late in the trial when MRF was able to get support from the East Africa Law Society for counsel. In addition, the human rights defender was not allowed to cross-examine key witnesses.
Front Line Defenders expresses its concern regarding the conviction against human rights defender Joel Ogada, as it is solely related to his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.