Photo source: Global Information Network. - Photo: 2024

Pineapple Farm in Kenya Linked to Killing of Workers

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | 25 March 2024 (IDN) — Del Monte Kenya, a vast pineapple farm in Thika, Kenya, is facing serious claims of human rights abuses in the wake of killings and violence against workers allegedly by its security guards.

The Guardian newspaper of London first broke the story in June 2023 with its expose of multiple deaths by the private security apparatus employed by Del Monte to safeguard its crop from thieves. Locals accused the guards of killing nine men aged twenty-two to fifty-two, as well as five rapes, plus allegations of head wounds, broken bones and cuts from blades requiring stitches.

The British law firm Leigh Day is representing 134 people who say they were abused by Del Monte’s guards. The accusations include beatings with no regard for the lives, wellbeing or human dignity of their victims, the law firm maintains.

The company has denied the charges. A Del Monte Kenya spokesperson said the case filed in the Kenyan high court was “an opportunity for all parties to present evidence – rather than unsubstantiated allegations – in a public forum and we trust that those proceedings will reveal the truth and vindicate our good name”.

A report by the Kenya-based Partner Africa called on the company to immediately provide remediation to those whose rights were violated. It also recommends that the company set out a human rights action plan. Partner Africa’s nonprofit mission is to improve the working conditions and livelihoods of vulnerable workers and producers in Africa.

Peter McAllister, executive director of the Ethical Trading Initiative, which represents shops, charities and unions to improve human rights in supply chains, commented: “We believe any company of the size and scope of Del Monte should have human rights expertise in their team to advise management, help the company stay abreast of best practice, work with wider stakeholders and deliver on a company’s commitments to customers.”

The company with headquarters in Walnut Creek, California, employs 6,000 people in Kenya but also operates in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia with products sold in more than 80 countries.

Five of the company’s former guards alleged in interviews with the Guardian that a lack of training and Del Monte’s poor relationship with local people had fueled violent clashes with trespassers on the farm. Since the Guardian and TBIJ’s initial investigation was published in June, there have been another five deaths allegedly linked to guards at the farm.

Four of those were men, who went to steal pineapples from the plantation near Thika. Their bodies were recovered from a river on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year after they were allegedly chased by guards. Del Monte Kenya said the men had gone into the river themselves and that there had been “no foul play”.

Following the Guardian’s reports, major UK supermarkets Tesco and Waitrose have removed Del Monte’s Kenyan pineapples from their shelves. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo source: Global Information Network.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate

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