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25 Okt 2021


Uganda: NGOs condemn arrest of six activists allegedly for opposing Total's oil project

"Environment watchdogs condemn arrest of Ugandan activists"

Environmental watchdogs Saturday condemned the arrest of six Ugandan rights campaigners as a coordinated effort to silence critics of a contested energy project involving French oil giant Total. The activists from AFIEGO, the country's highest-profile environmental defenders group, were detained without charge at a police station outside Kampala on Friday, the organisation said in a statement.

Its French partners, Amis de la Terre France (Friends of the Earth) and Survie (Survival), called for their immediate release and said the arrests fit a pattern of harassment against critics of the multi-billion dollar oil venture. "For several months, AFIEGO has been the target of continuous and increasing pressure and intimidation from the Ugandan authorities, who want to prevent it from continuing its activities against Total's mega-oil project," the French NGOs said in a statement.

AFIEGO, which was among 54 NGOs shut down by Ugandan authorities in August for alleged regulatory breaches, said the latest crackdown was a "coordinated effort to silence critical voices" speaking up for communities threatened by the oil project.

The six arrested activists include AFIEGO CEO Dickens Kamugisha, assistant communications officer Rachael Amongin, accountant Catherine Twongyeirwe, Mercy Nuwamanya, Paul Kato and Patrick Edema.