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UNFSS loses significance as critical issues affecting smallholder farmers are not mentioned – Criticized by Rights groups and experts



By Team,

Touted and offered as a bridge to one of the 17 sustainable development goals by 2030 – a world free of hunger, the summit had nothing to offer to the small-holder farmers. It was a rubber-stump of the ongoing corporate assault on food sovereignty and security. They miserably offered hotdogs to vegetarians.

Despite prior warnings from smallholder farmers and those who understand their ecosystem and also speak for them that the summit was a fool’s gold, the organizers of the summit feigned ignorance and dismissed their views out of hand. They [orgainsers] were not moved by the inclusive ideals of food sovereignty and security. Instead, chose to sacrifice these ideals on the altar of primitive accumulation of wealth that they believe will only thrive after the corporate-funded food jihadists and crusaders have disintegrated and wiped out small-holder farming.

But for those that have thoughtfully followed the pre and post-summit forward-looking criticism labeled against the ongoing crony capitalistic food jihad and crusade – funded by Hunger and Food Insecurity bandit and warlord – the World Economic Forum – will not treat it as sour gripping, but will unreservedly agree with smallholder farmers and those that honestly speak for them.

The food-jihadists and crusaders at this indoctrinating summit spoke in similes and metaphors that subtly declared war on smallholder farmers. Except for a formal declaration of a food jihad and crusades against food security and sovereignty, the food-jihadists and crusaders kicked the smallholder farmers in the teeth.

On 23 September, the United Nations held its first-ever food systems summit in New York but critics say it did not address the real challenges faced by the indigenous people who contribute 70% of the world’s food through sustainable agriculture, a reason why groups representing small-scale farmers and Indigenous communities boycotted it.

Paradoxically, the organizers dangled “eradication of poverty’s a bait at the unsuspecting poor countries that entirely thrive on smallholder farming to justify the cooperate capture of the summit. However, it didn’t address pertinent issues of monopoly by a handful of transnational companies, land grab, food sovereignty, and security,

The questions raised by key stakeholders like Elizabeth Mpofu Small-scale organic peasant farmer from Zimbabwe and Edgardo Garcia Peasant leader from the Nicaragua Land Workers’ Association have not been addressed. Their opinions raised reservations shared by smallholder farmers and those that speak for them.

“A handful of transnational companies dominate the current global food and commodity trade. For instance, just two firms – Dow Dupont and Monsanto-        Bayer Crop Science – hold a 53 percent market share in the seed industry. Merely three firms own 70 percent of the global agrochemical industry that manufactures and sells chemicals and pesticides used on crops. This corporate concentration is also evident in the livestock breeding sector, animal pharmaceutical industry, farming machinery, commodity trade, and so forth.”

In his address at the food systems summit, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was a solutions summit aimed at making transformative effects of food systems and a driver for the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.

However, groups who participated in the Global People’s Summit (GPS) on Food Systems, a parallel summit, are among the groups that boycotted the summit said the recently concluded UN Food Systems Summit (UN FSS) is just paving way for control of big corporations over global food systems and misleading the people through corporate-led false solutions to hunger and climate change.

The GPS on Food Systems, a Global South-led counter-summit to the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) co-organized by 22 regional and international organizations, which include; People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP), Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN), Arab People for Food Sovereignty (ANFS), Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF), Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI) among others.

These groups are not the first ones to boycott the UNFSS, in July, 36 civil society organizations (CSOs) in Uganda and across Africa under the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) had ruled out their participation in the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) scheduled for September 2021 in New York, USA accusing the UNFSS of excluding the critical views of indigenous farmers in defining suitable food systems.

The UNFSS aimed at strengthening corporate control over food and agriculture through advancing neoliberal policies and false solutions for instance food fortification, genetic modification, industrial meat production systems, monoculture food production to climate change, hunger, and malnutrition which organizations and experts say are corporate-driven approaches that marginalize, criminalize and co-opt indigenous knowledge as well as eroding biodiversity.

The groups added that the summit which branded its self as the ‘People’s Summit and the ‘Solutions Summit,’ did not listen to the voices of marginalized rural peoples, nor forwarded real solutions to the food, biodiversity, and climate crises.

“The UN FSS has been under fire by civil society and people’s organizations for its blatant subservience to corporate interests. A true and legitimate People’s Summit should put the hungry and marginalized — landless farmers, agricultural workers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, rural women, youth, rural people living in occupied areas, and sanctioned peoples — at the helm of agenda-setting in the radical transformation of our food systems,” Razan Zuayter, global co-chairperson of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), a member in the Global People’s Summit.

Michael Fakhri, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food said the summit has offered nothing to people to feed themselves and their families.

In an interview with the Guardian, Fakhir said the summit has unfortunately left many people feeling disappointed, including other UN human rights experts who participated in its preparation a situation that forced thousands to organize their own people’s summit and counter-mobilization over the past few days.

He added that even at the peak of the pandemic, the greatest threat to food security and nutrition was not because the food was unavailable, many people were not eating or not eating well because they lost their livelihood or home, could not afford to buy good food a situation brought by the corporate giants whose operations cause mayhem to local communities.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in 2020, between 720 and 811 million people faced hunger. And the recent trends of large land acquisition for commercial farming have further alienated the majority of smallholder farmers and exacerbated the hunger crisis.

In Uganda, like any other country, land rights are one of the pressing issues worth talking about. Whereas large-scale agricultural operations are increasing at a high speed, but local communities are not benefiting from them.

Often due to the desire to secure huge chunks of land for their operations, residents or landowners end up being evicted (violently) without any resettlement or compensation or paying them peanuts. This in turn breeds violence.

The land grabs that started in the mid-2000s have not ended. Almost land being occupied by companies’ plantations, owners of the land were evicted or the companies have intentions of evicting or grabbing the owners’ land. According to our research, we extracted only sugar cane plantation companies, amongst other companies working in Uganda on how they obtained land they are working on.

Families where Hoima Sugar Company is operating up to now live in refugee camps. Over 4000 locals were evicted by the company to pave way for its sugar cane farm.

Its sister company, Kiryandongo Sugar Company limited which operates in Kiryandongo and Masindi districts, did the same to residents. It is one of the multinationals that have forcefully and violently evicted people in the area. Estimates by a local defender of the evicted people move to over 36,000.

In 2013, Kakiira Sugar Works Limited, a subsidiary of Madhvani Group with help of a local land dealer Mr. Moses Karangwa evicted over 17,000 people in Kayunga district with funds from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and Uganda Development Bank among others.

Atiak sugar factory owned by a Somali entrepreneur Amina Hersi Moghe encroached on over 1000 acres of 50 households in Amuru district.

Since 2016, Abid Alam’s Kassanda sugar Company which is funded by the Indian Government evicted over 6000 people in the Kassanda district.

The others also mentioned in land wrangles and grabbing include, Mayuge Sugar Company, Kinyara Sugar Company, GM Sugar Company, Sango Bay sugar Company, Sugar and Allied industries limited, among other companies.

The indigenous communities feel the land rights and other important issues were left out and thus the UNFFS lost its meaning. Millions of farmers are evicted and pushed into hunger by the operations of these large companies. Sadly the produces are just imported which leaves many citizens destitute and hungry with nothing to feed their families and no land to cultivate.


Breaking: A missing community environmental defender was found dumped by the roadside.



By Witness Radio team.

An environmental human rights defender abducted five days ago while in Kampala has been found abandoned on a roadside in Kyenjonjo district, Witness Radio has confirmed.

Speaking to Witness Radio, a member at the Environmental Governance Institute (EGI) revealed that Stephen Kwikiriza was discovered at around 8:30 pm yesterday, abandoned on the roadside in Kyenjojo District. He added that the defender was severely beaten and is currently receiving medical attention at one of the hospitals in the country.

“We learned from his wife, whom he called, that he had been dumped in Kyenjojo. She informed one of our colleagues. We, therefore, had to find a means of rescuing him. He, however, was badly beaten and is not in good health,” he added.

Stephen Kwikiriza, a member of the King Fisher Project Affected Community, also working with the EGI, was abducted in Kampala by plain-clothed men, believed to be from Uganda Peoples Defense forces (UPDF) on 4th of June 2024 Tuesday morning.

According to sources, upon his (Stephen) abduction, he managed to send a text message to one of his colleagues at the Environmental Governance Institute (EGI), a local organization supporting project-affected persons, which reported a missing person.

The Kingfisher project is an oil project in western Uganda on the shores of Lake Albert, developed by the Chinese company China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), of which TotalEnergiesis the main shareholder. The project will extract oil and be transported by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

According to a statement from the Stop EACOP Coalition members, Stephen had been receiving various threats from UPDF officers deployed in the Kingfisher area. The coalition members believe these threats are retaliation for being outspoken against human rights abuses and the threats to his community’s livelihood posed by the Kingfisher oil project.

His abduction comes barely a few weeks after the forceful arrests of the seven environment activists namely Barigye Bob, Katiiti Noah, Mwesigwa Newton, Byaruhanga Julius, Ndyamwesigwa Desire, Bintukwanga Raymond, and Jealousy Mugisha.

On May 27th, 2024, the seven were arbitrarily rounded up by armed police in Kampala outside the Chinese Embassy in Kampala, Uganda while delivering a protest letter to the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda calling for his government not to fund a disastrous project.

On June 8, 2024, over 115 international civil society organizations wrote a statement in response to Kwikiriza’s abduction calling upon the Ugandan authorities to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Stephen Kwikiriza.

In the statement signed by Both Ends, Bank Track, and SOMO among others, they called on Ugandan authorities to cease all forms of harassment of civil society organizations and community members living in and speaking out on the EACOP Kingfisher project and all other related oil projects, including the Tilenga project, and guarantee in all circumstances that they can carry out their legitimate human

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Seven Environmental activists against EACOP have been charged and released on police bond.



By Witness Radio team.

Jinja Road police have preferred a charge of unlawful assembly against the seven environmental activists brutally arrested on May 27th, 2024, by armed police in Kampala for protesting against the intended financing of the East African crude oil pipeline project (EACOP) by the Chinese gov’t.

Section 66 of the Penal Code Act Cap. 120, states that any person who takes part in an unlawful assembly commits a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year upon conviction.

The seven include Barigye Bob, Katiiti Noah, Mwesigwa Newton, Byaruhanga Julius, Ndyamwesigwa Desire, Bintukwanga Raymond, and Jealousy Mugisha. The group got arrested outside the Chinese Embassy in Kampala, Uganda in an attempt to deliver a protest letter to the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda calling for his government not to fund a disastrous project.

On May 27th, seven protesters chose to sit outside the embassy, vowing not to leave until embassy officials received their protest letter, which contained grievances and demands. However, this did not happen. Instead, the police swung into action, brutally rounding up the protesters before throwing them into a police patrol and taken to Jinja Road police. The arrest occurred before any embassy officials had engaged with the protesters.

According to activists, the EACOP project has caused severe human rights violations, poses significant environmental risks, and will contribute to the climate crisis.

The EACOP is a project spanning 1,443km from Kabaale, Hoima district in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga Port in Tanzania. It aims to transport oil from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to global markets via the port of Tanga.

According to Uganda’s State House website, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on Thursday, April 4th, 2024, received a letter from the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping, expressing his unwavering support for the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP).

“Your Excellency, I received your letter, and I am very happy to let you know that I am in full support of EACOP. I believe that it will enhance socio-economic development for the region. I am confident that with the strong cooperation between our nations, this project will be a success,” message President Museveni on his X platform read in part.

On Saturday last week, Civil Society Organizations advocating for energy just transition, climate and environmental conservatism, and land justice addressed the media and appealed to the Chinese President to drop his interest in funding the EACOP pipeline after several banks and insurance companies had abandoned the Total-led project.

The government of China has now joined the list of entities, including Total Energies, in funding the controversial and potentially disastrous project that has continued to criminalize those who speak about its negative impacts.

The seven activists will report back to Jinja Road police station on June 4th, 2024.

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Breaking: Over 600 attacks against defenders have been recorded in the year 2023 globally- BHRRC report.



By Witness Radio-Uganda.

The attacks and criminalization of land rights defenders, environmental activists, and climate activists have become common tactics employed by the authorities in the world to silence, suppress opposition, and perpetuate impunity against those that protect the climate, environment, and land rights.

The escalating scale of attacks against people defending our rights and climate from business-related harms, according to the report by Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in 2023 titled People power under pressure: Human rights defenders & business in 2023 shows the failure of governments to protect human rights and illustrates how voluntary action by companies and investors is insufficient to prevent, stop and remedy harm.

The report documented 630 instances of attacks directly affecting an estimated 20,000 people, raising concerns about business-related harms in the whole World where over three-quarters (78%) of these attacks were against people acting to protect the climate, environmental, and land rights.

According to the report, many attacks involved collusion between state, private sector, and other non-state actors occurring in contexts where there are high levels of impunity, adding that the direct perpetrators of attacks were largely state actors, with police and judicial systems being the most common perpetrators, followed by the military/armed forces. The highest number of attacks were connected with the mining (165), agribusiness (117), and oil, gas & coal (112) sectors.

According to the Resource Centre, Brazil leads the tally in the World with the highest number of attacks on HRDs challenging corporate harm in 2023 with (68) cases followed by, India (59), Mexico (55), Honduras (44), the Philippines (36), USA (27), Iran (24), and Colombia (22), among others.

In 2023, 86% of the cases we tracked were non-lethal including arbitrary detention (157), physical violence (81), intimidation and threats (80), strategic lawsuits against public participation (38), and others. The Resource Centre also recorded 87 killings of defenders speaking out about business-related harms in 2023. Additionally, the Centre has revealed most attacks – both lethal and non-lethal against HRDs go uninvestigated and unpunished, promoting a culture of impunity and fueling further attacks.

In Africa, Uganda has recorded the highest number of cases, with 18 incidents reported. The East Africa Crude Oil pipeline stands out as a focal point for most of these attacks, with individuals opposing this major infrastructure project being targeted by the state.

The report revealed one of the incidents where the Police officers refused to let the students enter parliament. Most were chased away, but four students, including Kajubi Maktom, were caught by police and allegedly kicked, punched, and beaten with wood, and brutally arrested. They spent the weekend in Luzira prison, where Maktom contracted tuberculosis, before being charged with public nuisance and released on bail. Since then Maktom has continued to receive threats from unknown persons.

Several reports including those of Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders, and Witness Radio among others have published reports describing patterns of arbitrary arrests, threats, office raids, and intimidation against individuals who have raised concerns about EACOP and other oil developments in Uganda.

The 630 instances of attacks against people raising concerns about business-related harms recorded in 2023 only are part of a consistent, ongoing pattern of attacks against HRDs protecting our rights and planet globally, with more than 5,300 attacks recorded since January 2015 by the Resource Centre.

The report calls upon States to fulfill their duty to protect the rights of HRDs and for business actors to respect the rights of HRDs by taking immediate action on these recommendations.

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