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Goldman Environmental Foundation Calls for Immediate Safety Measures, Investigation into Threats Against Phyllis Omido, CJGEA Members in Kenya

February 20, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2017

Emily Nauseda, goldmanprize@allisonpr.com, 415-277-4903
Jenny Park, jenny@goldmanprize.org, 415-249-5800

SAN FRANCISCO — The Goldman Environmental Foundation is deeply troubled by this morning’s news that due to recent threats to her safety, Phyllis Omido was evacuated from her home in Kenya. She is now being accompanied by international human rights defenders at a secure location abroad. Many of her colleagues at the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action (CJGEA) in Kenya have also been threatened and remain in danger.

The threats against Omido and her colleagues have increased considerably following their filing of a public interest lawsuit on behalf of Owino Uhuru communities who have been harmed by pollution from a local lead smelter. According to Omido, armed assailants attacked three CJGEA members and threatened to burn them alive, demanding that they withdraw the class action case from the court. Mzee Ogola, a CJGEA member and Owino Uhuru village elder barely escaped after his house was burned down; others have been attacked and forced to move out of their homes, and live in fear of their safety.

These deplorable acts are a violation of Omido and CJGEA members’ basic rights to freedom and justice. They have peacefully campaigned to protect the Owino Uhuru community’s constitutionally protected rights to a safe and healthy environment. They deserve the right to continue their important work free of violence and persecution. Activists like Omido should not be targeted or vilified; they deserve to be honored and protected.

The Goldman Environmental Foundation joins Omido and CJGEA members in their demands to the Kenyan Director of Public Prosecution, Keriako Tobiko, to step in and investigate the responsible parties. We, along with the international community will be monitoring the situation and will keep pressing the Kenyan authorities until Omido and her team’s safety is guaranteed.

ATTENTION EDITORS: Background information, photographs, and video footage of Phyllis Omido are available online: http://www.goldmanprize.org/phyllis

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