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How the EU-Mercosur trade deal is worsening the international climate crisis

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After twenty years of negotiations, the European Union is in the process of advancing one of the world’s largest free trade agreements with four states of Mercosur. The planned agreement suggests a political path that veers towards a worsening of the international climate crisis. Kathrin Meyer discusses the questionable contents of the political act, which will solidify inequality amongst the trade partners and enable the expansion of environmentally harmful methods.

 

With disregard to both the current international declarations on the worldwide climate crisis, as well as the exploitation and degradation of ecosystems outside of the European continent, the EU continues to ensure its needed raw material supply in order to encourage the expansion of its industrial sectors.

Such contempt is reflected in the current free trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The process to build one of the largest free trade areas in the world was launched on June 28th, when the EU Commission called on its member states to ratify the detailed agreement.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström defended the initiative despite critical voices from climate activists and farmers, who condemned the ongoing negotiations on the biggest free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur countries. In an interview with the daily newspaper Die Welt, she rejected possible changes within the agreement and said: “The treaty is ready and on the table. What’s done is done [sic!]”.

Justified criticism

Trade relations between Mercosur countries and the EU are already considered unequal. International NGOs and institutions fear that the ratification of the negotiated treaty could further strengthen structural problems.

A report by the non-profit organisation Misereor shows that the energy and raw materials sector will be one of the areas most affected. In addition to the further development of environmentally harmful processes, such as deforestation of the Amazon and new projects to promote fossil fuels, the abuse of labour will also intensify. A chief example of this includes the poor working conditions in the field of raw materials extraction.

Although the past few months have borne witness to growing environmental movements and demands for environmentally friendly political action, the focus of the free trade plan is certainly not about advancing the international energy transition. The agreement does not provide any incentives for decentralized renewable energies. On the contrary, the focus continues to be on existing production and supply models, which will continue to persist despite environmentally logical – and preferable – alternatives.

Existing production and supply models describe, inter alia, the continuation of the export relationship regarding mining products and further extraction plans.

Abolition of important export taxes

In the past, the Mercosur states regulated the export of products like lithium, copper and iron pre, due to environmental concerns, the security of their own commodity supply, and the protection of the national labour force. This will change with the new EU Trade Agreement, as the main goal of the EU’s negotiations consists of the prevention of such export restrictions to secure the supply of raw materials.

Furthermore, a ban on export taxes should make the purchase of raw materials from Latin American countries cheaper for the EU. This could mean a sharp drop in revenues for trade partner Argentina, which uses export tariffs to promote national social programs.

Liberalization at all costs

To further the development of infrastructure within the fossil fuel and mining sectors, the EU has pushed to expand the liberalization of the local energy and commodity sectors for investment and services, including continued extraction projects like the drilling for deep-sea oil deposits in Brazil or the investments in the exploitation of shale gas deposits in Argentina. The construction and building of new power plans, as well as pipelines, are on the EU’s trading agenda.

So far, not all EU member states have agreed to the fatal agreement. France has declared that it will not ratify the treaty as long as there are no valid guarantees, like the protection of the Amazon and French agriculture, as European agriculture is also at stake.

In response to French demands, political representatives from Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Latvia and Portugal have sent a letter to the European Commission calling for a rapid procedure to ensure enforcement of “one of the most important agreements in the common European commercial history“.

This is partly because of the political situation in Argentina, where President Mauricio Macri could possibly be unseated by the coming election at the end of the year. It is worth considering if the political agenda of the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is known as a despiser of the environment and human rights, could have contributed to the constitution of the letter. Bolsonaro appears poised to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which would make the process of ratifying the treaty more difficult for the EU.

From the European side, one could argue that Angela Merkel and the other co-authors have lost sight of the path of sustainability for which they claim to be fighting.

Perhaps there should be stronger calls for a review of the trading agreement, which appears to have calcified in outdated ideals over the course of the last twenty years of negotiations. The demands of the European Union in this historic agreement, which include further extraction plans, expended claims of ownership, and contempt for the lands and quality of life of non-European people, reflect a neo-colonial approach in which sustainable policies are not to be found. As a result, the international climate crisis seems likely to brew into a climate disaster.

Source: energytransition.org

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PETITIONS

Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.

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The Commandant,

Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.

Dear Sir/Madam;

RE: COMPLAINT AGAINST UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT OF THE DPC KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT FOR AIDING AND ABETTING LAND GRABBING IN NYAMUTENDE KITWARA PARISH KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT AND CARRYING OUT ILLEGAL ARRESTS AND DETENTION OF INNOCENT RESIDENTS/ BIBANJA OWNERS FOR PROTESTING AGAINST THE ILLEGAL EVICTION FROM THEIR LAND.

We act for and behalf of the Lawful and bonafide occupants of Land described as LRV MAS 2 FOLIO 8 BLOCK 8 PLOT 22 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS RANCH 22).

Our Clients are residents of Nyamutende Village, Kitwara Parish in Kiryandongo District where they have lived for more than 30 years and sometime in 2017, they applied for a lease of the said Land to Kiryandongo District Land Board through the Directorate of Land Matters State House.

As they were still awaiting their Application to be processed, they were shocked to establish that the said land had been instead leased to and registered in the names of Isingoma Julius, Mwesige Simon, John Musokota William, Tumusiime Gerald, Wabwire Messener Gabriel, Ocema Richard and Wilson Shikhama, some of whom were not known to the Complainants. A copy of the Search is attached hereto

Our clients protested the above action and appealed to relevant offices, but were shocked to discover that the above persons had gone ahead and sold the same to a one Maseruka Robert.

Aggrieved by these actions, the Complainants appealed to the RDC who advised them to institute proceedings against the said persons, and assigned them a one Mbabazi Samuel to assist them to that effect. The said Mbabazi accordingly filed Civil Suit Noa 46 of 2019 against tne said registered proprietors at Masindi High Court challenging the illegal and fraudulent registration, sale and transfer of the subject land to Maseruka Robert.

While awaiting the progress of the case mentioned hereinabove, the Complainants were surprised to find that the said Mbabazi, instead of assisting them, he went into a consent settling the said suit on their behalf without their knowledge or consent. A copy of the Consent is attached hereto.

Among the terms of the said consent Judgment was that the residents would be compensated without specifying how much and would in return vacate the Land.

As if that was not enough, Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel are going ahead to execute the said Consent Judgment by forcefully evicting the occupants without compensation which has prompted the complainants to challenge the said Consent by applying for its review and setting aside at Masindi High Court which is coming up for hearing on the 29th March 2023. A copy of the Application is attached hereto.

Sensing the imminent threat of eviction, we also filed an application for interim stay of execution of the said consent to avoid rendering their application for review nugatory but unfortunately the same could not be heard on the date it was fixed for hearing (6th February 2023). A copy of the Application is attached hereto

On Thursday last week, three tractors being operated by 6 workers of a one Mbabazi Samuel [the very person who had been entrusted to represent our Clients to secure their Land through Civil Suit No.46 of 2019] encroached close to 50 acres of our Clients’ land and started ploughing it but our Client’s protested and chased them away.

We have however been shocked to receive information from our Clients that on Sunday at Mid night, 3 police patrols invaded the community in the night and arrested community members; Mulenje Jack, Steven Kagyenji, Mulekwa David, Ntambala Geoffrey, Tumukunde Isaac 15 years, Kanunu Innocent, Mukombozi Frank, Kuzara, Rwamunyankole Enock, and took them to Kiryandongo Police Station where they are currently detained.

We strongly protest the illegal arrests and detention of our Clients as this is a carefully orchestrated land grabbing scheme by Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel who are  receiving support from the DPC Kiryandongo.

The purpose of this Letter therefore is to request your good office to investigate the misconduct, abuse of office and unprofessionalism of the said DPC Kiryandongo District and all his involvement in the land grabbing schemes on land formerly known as Ranch 22.

Looking forward to your urgent intervention,

C.C The Head Police Land Protection Unit Police Head Quarters Naguru

CC The RDC Kiryandongo District

CC The Chairman LCVKityadongo District

CC The Regional Police CommanderAlbertine Region

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WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES

The Executive Director of Witness Radio Uganda talks about the role played by Witness Radio in protecting communities affected by large-scale agribusinesses in Kiryandongo district in an interview with the ILC.

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WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES

Witness Radio Uganda wins the best CSO land rights defenders award at the National Land Forum Awards.

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By Witness Radio Team

Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog, Witness Radio has been awarded the best CSO land rights defender award 2022 in the recently concluded National Land Forum Awards held last week at Mestil hotel in Kampala.

Witness Radio’s executive Director, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala attributed the award to the community land and environmental rights defenders who stand up against the intimidation and different forms of harassment from land grabbers (economically powerful and politically connected companies and individual investors).

“This is an award for defenders at a community level. They work in very deadly environments filled with harassment, torture, death threats, arrest, trumped-up charges, and kidnaps among others to advocate for community land and environment rights. This is happening at a spate where criminalization and silencing of  community land rights defenders are at increase.” Jeff added.

The award has come at a time when hundreds of Ugandans in different parts of the country are accessing services provided by the organization ranging from legal service provisions, non-judicial mechanism engagements, empowerment to help them understand their rights, and using the same knowledge to use the same skills to push back against illegal and forced evictions

The chairman of the organizing committee of the second National Land Forum, Mr. Jimmy Ochom noted some progress on legislation in Uganda’s land Governance. He cited growing inequalities on land where the poor are more vulnerable.

During awards, the state minister for housing, Hon persis Namuganza revealed that the government approved the plan for 2018-2040 that maps the land use in the country.

According to the minister, the government had identified land for settlement, game reserves, wildlife, arable land for farming, and water bodies among others in the plan which she said was passed a few weeks ago.

The event was organized by Oxfam and partners and provided a platform for discussions by the different actors in the land sector on issues around land governance, including land rights, land administration, and land governance for improved collaboration, cooperation between the actors, and improved land service delivery for Ugandans under a theme “Taking stock of the National Land Policy in addressing Land inequality in addressing Land inequality in Uganda.”

Other categories of awards that were won by different organizations and individuals including Mr. Eddie Nsamba-Gayiiya for his contribution to research on land rights, Justice Centers Uganda for Promoting Access to Land Justice, and Mr. Henry Harrison Irumba for Championing Legal Reforms among others.

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