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10 Sep 2021

Coalition for Human Rights in Development & other organisations

Uganda: Staff of construction company & local authorities accused of using violence against community and human rights defenders opposing Wadelai irrigation project

'Open letter to African Development Bank and Nordic Development Fund: Address reprisals against Paten Clan', 10 September 2021

On August 10, 2021, sixteen members of Paten Clan, a community in Pakwach District in northern Uganda, were shot at and wounded by local police and army officers, as a retaliation for their opposition to the Wadelai irrigation project which is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and supported by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF).

Staff of the construction company in charge of implementing the project, together with representatives of the local authorities and the police, forcefully entered the community. When communities questioned and protested against the trespass, the local police and members of the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) started firing bullets and teargas to disperse them. 16 community members were injured... UPDF officers arrested and beat up four women, including one pregnant woman, while they were on their way to fetch water. These attacks are just the latest example of the ongoing retaliations faced by community members and human rights defenders in Pakwach District...

Nine members of the community have also been criminalised following the protests. They have been accused of sabotaging the project by local police and are currently out on bail. Two human rights defenders who volunteer with local human rights organisation, Buliisa Rural Initiative for Development (BIRUDO), who are also local civil servants have also been criminalised... BIRUDO... has also been suspended...

The community has raised concerns about the amount of land sought for the project, which would leave them with limited use for their own agricultural and other needs... The Wadelei irrigation project, constructed by the Ugandan company Coil Construction Company Limited, [...receives...] approximately USD 5.9 million from the Nordic Development Fund, USD 76.7 million from the AfDB and USD 9.1 million from the Government of Uganda...

Part of the following timelines

Uganda: Staff of construction company & local authorities accused of using violence against community and HRDs who oppose project co-sponsored by AfDB & NDF; incl. co. responses

Threats & attacks on rights groups and land & environmental defenders in Uganda