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US embassy blast victims seek award from French bank

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US embassy blast victims seek award from French bank


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Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The victims through Katiba Institute have petitioned the High Court for an order directing Kenya to seek compensation from the French bank and Sudan within six months.
  • The compensation relates to al-Qaeda’s 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.
  • They tie their suit to the bank’s admission in a US court of violating economic sanctions against Sudan, which was accused of harbouring al-Qaeda, mostly during the 1990s.

Victims of the 1998 bombing of US embassy in Nairobi are seeking a court order to compel the Attorney-General to pursue compensation from top French bank, BNP Paribas, and Sudan.

The victims through Katiba Institute have petitioned the High Court for an order directing Kenya to seek compensation from the French bank and Sudan within six months in a suit that could trigger diplomatic tensions.

The compensation relates to al-Qaeda’s 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

They tie their suit to the bank’s admission in a US court of violating economic sanctions against Sudan, which was accused of harbouring al-Qaeda, mostly during the 1990s.

They cited a US court’s finding that without Sudan’s support, al-Qaeda could not have perpetrated the attacks.

Close links between Khartoum and BNP Paribas–which has been accused of operating as the “central bank for the government of Sudan,”—has landed the French lender in trouble, forcing it into $8.9 billion (Sh957 billion) settlement with US authorities.

Some of the money went to people harmed by Sudan, but excluded victims of the 1998 US embassy bombings on a legal technicality.

“An order directed at the Attorney General to within six months… obtain compensation for victims from Al-Qaeda assets and BNP Paribas S.A., a global financial institution headquartered in Paris,” the petition in the Kenya High Court says.

“File an international jurisdiction case for compensation of all victims and their families against the Republic of Sudan.”

In March, it was announced that Sudan had paid $335m (Sh36 billion) as compensation for victims of past attacks against US targets.

But the deal – a key condition set by the US for Sudan to be removed from its list of State sponsors of terrorism – only includes punitive damages to families of victims or those injured who are US nationals or US embassy workers.

The majority of the estimated 5,000 people injured in the twin bombings to hit the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998 will not get any money. Neither will the families of the more than 200 locals who died in the blasts.

Each American victim or family of the US embassy attacks will receive $3m (Sh322 million), while locally employed staff will receive $400,000 (Sh43 million), the US media reported.

In total, 85 survivors or families of victims will be compensated.

Sudan admitted culpability in the attacks after being accused of giving al-Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden technical and financial support in the 1990s.

Its removal from a US blacklist allows the country to get badly needed debt relief, foreign investment and loans from international financial institutions.

“The petitioners are aggrieved that while the United States of America have pursued compensation from Al-Qaeda assets and BNP Paribas for its citizens, Kenya has been unwilling to purse compensation for the Kenyan victims,” the Kenya victims said in court documents.

The French banking giant has faced multiple suits and inquiry into its financial dealings with Sudan.

Last year, Paris prosecutors opened an investigation into BNP Paribas over allegations of complicity in crimes against humanity in Sudan.

The probe cames after nine Sudanese plaintiffs, who said they have been victims of rights abuses by ousted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s government, filed a legal complaint against BNP Paribas.

The plaintiffs allege the French bank was complicit in crimes against humanity because it provided financial services for the Sudanese government.

They argue that in a US sanctions violations case the US Department of Justice described BNP Paribas as Sudan’s de facto central bank from 1997 to 2007 because it gave the Sudanese government access to international money markets, and the means to pay staff, the military and security forces.



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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.



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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.



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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.



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