Connect with us

STATEMENTS

Joint Statement on World Bank Accountability Mechanism’s Decision to Limit Application of Operating Procedures

Published

on

Accountability Counsel, along with other civil society organizations, expresses alarm over a recent announcement by the World Bank Accountability Mechanism that its final operating procedures would not apply to all of its cases. The final operating procedures, published in December 2022, state that they “apply immediately upon issuance” and “supersede the DRS interim operating procedures” and thus we expected them to apply to ongoing cases. However, on March 6th the Accountability Mechanism Secretary, who is responsible for issuing and interpreting mechanism procedures, clarified that the final operating procedures would not apply to two ongoing cases.

The announcement reads: “The Accountability Mechanism Operating Procedures supersede the DRS Interim Operating Procedures, originally issued in October 2021. The DRS Interim Operating Procedures continue to apply in full in cases where the Parties commenced mediation prior to the issuance of the AM Operating Procedures […] Specifically, DRS cases 21/01/DRS and 21/04/DRS.” Those two cases are: Uganda (Second Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2) (P133590)) and Nepal (Nepal-India Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (P115767) and its Additional Financing (P132631)).

We disagree with the Accountability Mechanism Secretary’s decision not to apply the final operating procedures to these two cases for the following reasons:

  • Communities in these two cases are given fewer accountability options. The final operating procedures clarify that eligible issues unresolved by dispute resolution can be investigated by the Inspection Panel. While the interim procedures did not prohibit this so-called partial resolution option, they also did not expressly state that the process was available. By restricting the application of the final operating procedures, the Accountability Mechanism Secretary has decided not to permit eligible unresolved issues to be investigated for two cases if an agreement on some issues is reached.
  • This leaves a potential accountability gap for the World Bank regarding two projects. While a dispute resolution process is typically undertaken by affected communities and borrowers, the Inspection Panel investigates the World Bank’s own compliance with its policies and procedures. The Accountability Mechanism’s decision to not permit eligible unresolved issues to go to compliance for two projects means that there could be noncompliance that goes unexamined and unresolved.
  • The decision is inconsistent with good practice. Typically, new operating procedures apply to all cases as soon as they are published. Consistent with that good practice, the World Bank Inspection Panel is applying its December 2022 operating procedures to all cases immediately.

Dispute resolution is voluntary, and parties can determine what conditions they require to come to the table, including whether or not to require full resolution of all issues. Taking that choice from the parties is an overstep. Our expectation of all accountability mechanisms is that they will champion the rights and needs of communities, not borrowers or banks. While we respect the Accountability Mechanism Secretary’s mandate to interpret their own procedures, we believe that this decision was incorrect and will undermine communities’ trust in the mechanism going forward.

This statement is endorsed by:

Accountability Counsel

Bank Information Center

CEE Bankwatch Network

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

Centre for Financial Accountability

Friends of the Earth United States

Green Advocates International

Inclusive Development International

Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

International Accountability Project

Just Ground

Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP)

Lumière Synergie pour le Développement

NGO Forum on ADB

Recourse

Urgewald e.V.

Witness Radio Uganda.

Source: Accountability Counsel

Continue Reading

DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels

Published

on

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is due to publish a new Energy Sector Strategy before the end of 2023. A total of 130 civil society organizations from over 40 countries have released a statement calling on the EBRD to end finance for all fossil fuels, including gas.

From 2018 to 2021, the EBRD invested EUR 2.9 billion in the fossil energy sector, with the majority of this support going to gas. This makes it the third biggest funder of fossil fuels among all multilateral development banks, behind the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank.

The EBRD has already excluded coal and upstream oil and gas fields from its financing. The draft Energy Sector Strategy further excludes oil transportation and oil-fired electricity generation. However, the draft strategy would continue to allow some investment in new fossil gas pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, as well as gas power generation and heating.

In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most. At the same time, they highlight, ending support to fossil gas is necessary, not only for climate security, but also for ensuring energy security, since continued investment in gas exposes countries of operation to high and volatile energy prices that can have a severe impact on their ability to reach development targets. Moreover, they underscore that supporting new gas transportation infrastructure is not a solution to the current energy crisis, given that new infrastructure would not come online for several years, well after the crisis has passed.

The signatories of the statement call on the EBRD to amend the Energy Sector Strategy to

  • fully exclude new investments in midstream and downstream gas projects;
  • avoid loopholes involving the use of unproven or uneconomic technologies, as well as aspirational but meaningless mitigation measures such as “CCS-readiness”; and
  • strengthen the requirements for financial intermediaries where the intended nature of the sub-transactions is not known to exclude fossil fuel finance across the entire value chain.

Source: iisd.org

Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf

Continue Reading

STATEMENTS

Witness Radio Condemns Violent Gunfire Incidents during State Land Minister’s Visit.

Published

on

By Witness Radio Team.

Date: August 29, 2023.

Witness Radio, an advocate for land and environmental justice in Uganda, vehemently condemns the shocking and reprehensible act of gunfire that transpired during the visit of State Land Minister Sam Mayanja to the disputed land in Hoima district. The incident, which occurred on the evening of August 24, 2023, serves as grim evidence of the prevailing impunity surrounding land disputes in the country.

The events of that fateful evening in Rwabunyonyi village have laid bare the deeply unsettling reality of a land crisis that has engulfed the lives of countless innocent citizens. The State Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, tasked with upholding the principles of justice and legality, was subjected to a perilous situation by a barrage of gunfire emanating from security personnel associated with Pyramid Private Security. These armed guards, aligned with the interests of businessman Fred Mugamba, unleashed a torrent of bullets into the air in a brazen attempt to deter the Minister from carrying out his official duties.

The backdrop to this horrific incident can be traced back to a series of harrowing events that commenced in 2022, causing upheaval in the Rwobunyonyi and Kirindasojo areas of the Buraru sub-county in Hoima district. A land dispute, centered around 810-hectare parcel of land, has ignited a firestorm of displacement and anguish, displacing more than 2000 residents and plunging them into a state of distress. The chief orchestrator of these violent evictions, businessman Fred Mugamba, has heartlessly disrupted the lives and livelihoods of these innocent families who claim ownership of land, that has been a home to many since the 1940s.

Throughout this agonizing saga, the affected communities have borne the brunt of a relentless campaign of intimidation and violence, orchestrated by casual laborers and armed security guards in the service of Mr. Mugamba. Tragically, the situation escalated to a point where two lives were lost. Furthermore, those brave enough to raise their voices against this land grab were met with unjust arrests, perpetuating an atmosphere of fear and tension.

In a bid to stem the escalating turmoil, the State Lands Minister, guided by a sense of responsibility to restore peace, intervened in this crisis. Accompanied by Deputy Resident District Commissioner Mr. Michael Kyakashari and District Police Commander (DPC) Jackson Bogere, the Minister embarked on a mission to engage both the affected residents and the purported landowner, Mr. Mugamba. However, the hunt for peace was thwarted by the menacing presence of private security guards, who callously obstructed the Minister’s path and resorted to gunfire, causing panic and chaos.

Witness Radio’s records have documented a disheartening pattern of eviction cases, where private security entities have consistently perpetrated violence against vulnerable communities. These entities have acted with impunity, leaving the marginalized with no means of defense except vacating their own land.

In the face of escalating violent evictions, a directive was issued in March 2023 by the Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, Honorable Judith Nabakooba Nalule. This directive explicitly forbade armed groups from participating in evictions, emphasizing the government’s capacity to conduct lawful evictions through its security agencies. Regrettably, the distressing surge of violent evictions has displayed a blatant disregard for this directive, persisting at an alarming rate.

While a handful of suspects have been apprehended in connection to the Minister’s shooting incident, and charges of threatening violence have been imposed against them, these actions must set a precedent. The police must intensify efforts to enforce the recent ministerial order, presidential orders aimed at curbing the menace of armed thugs, and security guards committing unlawful evictions under the directives of land grabbers.

Witness Radio is deeply concerned with the distressing surge in unlawful land evictions, often executed with the complicity of government forces, armed individuals, and private security guards.

This concerning trend continues unabated, inflicting severe harm upon local communities. The incident involving gunfire during the Minister’s presence serves as a stark reminder of the undue influence wielded by land grabbers, who exploit their power to destabilize communities.

It is glaringly evident that these orchestrated land evictions are the handiwork of influential interests that openly defy legal mandates and employ violent means to advance their agendas. Such actions not only infringe upon the fundamental rights of citizens but also pose a dire threat to the security and stability of the communities affected.

In light of these deeply distressing developments, we urgently beseech the President of Uganda, Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa, to take decisive and resolute action. We implore him to rein in the actions of individuals associated with land grabbers and to ensure the unwavering protection of citizens’ rights.

Accountability must prevail for those responsible for these heinous acts, and robust measures must be instituted to prevent further harm to vulnerable communities. Witness Radio stands steadily committed to the pursuit of justice and the safeguarding of the land and environmental rights of all Ugandans.

…………..END…………..

Continue Reading

STATEMENTS

EACJ TO GIVE A RULING ON THE PRELIMINARY OBJECTIONS RAISED IN THE EACOP CASE

Published

on

By Witness Radio, AFIEGO and Cefroht under the Hotpots program

June15, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                       Kampala, Uganda

EACJ TO GIVE A RULING ON THE PRELIMINARY OBJECTIONS RAISED IN THE EACOP CASE 

On April 5, 2023, the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) First Instance Division at Arusha-Tanzania closed the hearing on the preliminary objections. The preliminary objection had been raised by the governments of Uganda, and Tanzania and the secretary general of the East African Community (EAC) in response to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) case filed by civil society groups from Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya who are challenging the construction of the EACOP.

The preliminary objection raised by the respondent sought to dismiss the case before the main hearing, claiming that the court does not have the power to hear the case because it lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the human rights violations.

The respondents also claim that the EACJ does not have the power to entertain the case since it was brought outside of two months contrary to the East African Community Treaty (EAC).

Lastly, the respondents also argued that the pleadings in the main case were not verified.

At the hearing, both parties were given chance to make summary oral submission. In response to the objections, the applicants (Natural Justice, Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Centre for Strategic Litigation and the Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT), CEFROHT, Natural Justice Kenya (NJ) and Center for strategic Litigation limited (CSL) presented evidence to show that the EACJ had jurisdiction to hear the case. They submitted that the case was filed in time and the question of limitation could not be entertained.

The applicants further asserted that the pleadings were verified and, in any case, there was no formality for verification of pleadings.

After the submissions by the parties, the court indicated that the ruling would be delivered on notice and at a later date.

“We are hopeful that the objections will be dismissed because the EACOP project is critical in terms of environmental, social, and economic survival for the people of East Africa and it would be unfortunate for a regional court to allow baseless objections to stop the main case from being heard on its merits. 

Nearly three years since filing, the case has not advanced beyond the preliminary stages. The affected community’s situation and the emerging science from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on worsening climate impacts on vulnerable countries, we hope the court will make a swift determination and consider this important case on its merits.” Dickens Kamugisha CEO at AFIEGO states.

In the main case which was filed in November 2020 by the applicants, there is sufficient evidence indicating that the EACOP project violates several provisions of the EAC Treaty and other national, regional, and international laws, treaties, and conventions. The project impacts critical ecosystems including forests, wetlands, national parks and game reserves, lakes and rivers, communities where families deliver their sustenance, and others.

The project is also a danger to climate change and its negative impacts far outweigh its project economic benefits.

Specifically, the main case seeks the following remedies:

  • A declaration that the sighing of the HGA and IGA by Uganda and Tanzania violates both national and international laws.
  • A declaration that the execution of the EACOP project in legally protected areas contravenes the EAC Treaty.
  • A permanent injunction against the respondents from constructing the pipeline in protected areas in Uganda and Tanzania.
  • An order that the respondents compensate all the project-affected persons (PAPs) for the loss already incurred due to the restrictions issued on their property by the EACOP project developers.

“Often, the push by CSOs to challenge their governments to refuse global north companies keen to invest in harmful projects is a David vs Goliath affair that can only find justice in courts. We, therefore, trust the litigation process to give the vulnerable communities an opportunity to be heard – give facts about why they’re opposed to this project, the potential harm to their biodiversity, and why it would be in everyone’s best interest to divest to renewable energy projects.” David Kabanda CEO at CERFROTH says.

*****************************ENDS******************************

For more information, contact:

Ms Diana Nabiruma
Senior Communications Officer, AFIEGO
dnabiruma@afiego.org
Mr. Lubega Jonathan
Programme Manager, CEFROHT
lubega@cefroht.og

Mr. Tonny Katende,
Research and Media, Witness Radio.
news@witnessradio.org

Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework

READ BY CATEGORY

Facebook

Newsletter

Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter



Trending

Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter