Human Rights Update

16TH OCTOBER, 2020

Changes and Improvements to Group Governance Processes and Policy

Share this page:

Camellia Plc

Governance changes and improvements following claims concerning allegations of human rights abuses by Kakuzi Plc

As has been widely reported, legal proceedings have been served on Camellia by UK law firm Leigh Day in respect of allegations of human rights abuses by employees of Kakuzi plc (an indirect subsidiary) in Kenya.  They include claims of alleged violence (including the tragic death of a man), rape and sexual assault by employees. 

The veracity of the claims has yet to be tested and they are being investigated thoroughly.  Undoubtedly, even if only some of these claims are true, something has gone very wrong in a company we invest in.

These claims have prompted Camellia to take urgent action to review and, if appropriate, upgrade the Group’s governance and safeguarding oversight functions to ensure that in every respect they comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  We will also be reviewing our group policies to identify what, if any, appropriate changes should be made.  We will expect the investee companies similarly to review their own policies and procedures, including policies designed to ensure that help is provided to potential victims where allegations of this nature arise.

To this end the Board of Camellia will establish an Investments, Safeguarding and Stewardship Committee of the Board.  This will be responsible for assisting investee companies to review their policies, disciplinary procedures, education, training, safeguarding, zero tolerance of employee gross misconduct, as well as social responsibility and governance policies and processes.  It will use its influence as a significant shareholder to encourage investee companies to implement any changes that are necessary to bring policies and procedures in line with the ‘gold standard’ to which all companies should aspire and which our customers and partners expect.

Tom Franks, CEO Camellia Plc, said:

“Our investee companies across the group employ thousands of local people, support local communities, and grow fresh produce that feeds people around the world. They provide housing, schools and medical care for thousands of employees and their dependants.

“However, allegations of human rights abuses including assault, rape, sexual harassment, and the death of a man, have shocked us to the core.  If true, that means there have been unacceptable failures of governance and management.  This is wholly contrary to Camellia’s ethos that the businesses in which we invest support and ensure the welfare of their employees, their employees’ families and their local communities.

“We are determined to do all we can to make sure that the 78,000 people employed by our investee companies across the Group, their families and communities are well taken care of by those companies.  Should misconduct occur, it must be properly and fairly resolved and all necessary steps taken to ensure that it can’t happen again.”

Our 2021 Annual Report is now available.