An Independent Investigation reveals French Oil Company Total and Atacama Consulting are abusing the rights of the community in Ngwedu, Buliisa district

An independent investigation of French Oil Giant Total and Atacama Consulting the company that belongs to the daughter of President Museveni revealed that the two companies are regularly violating the human rights of the community in Ngwedu sub county of Buliisa district in the Albertine region.

The investigation, conducted by the Albertine Watch, revealed that Total and Atacama Consulting has not received free, prior, and informed consent from the local people for their Oil and gas exploration activities and operations in the community of Ngwedu; the enumerations activities being conducted by the Total and Atacama Consulting “is very definitely not sustainable and fall short of International Oil exploration and production standards ”; the two entities are not fully engaging the local communities in the exercise.

The investigations revealed that Total and Atacama consulting employees are sexually abusing Ngwedu women and young girls and there are no officials police investigations into these allegations.

In an interview with community leaders in Ngwedu by the Albertine Watch, the community leaders told the Albertine Watch that while Total and the Atacama are working on order from the president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni or state house, they should take note that by their employees sexually abusing women and school going female childrens, they will be confronted by deeds and not by mere words.

LC5 Chairman of Buliisa district Agaba Simon Kinene

The Total and Atacama Consulting are of recently receiving a lot of criticisms from several community members who feels that the two companies are violating their human rights.

The community of Ngwedu has maintained their culture since times in memorial, however, in recent years, their cultures are being degraded and disrespected as a result of the oil and gas exploration and production activities ongoing on their lands by the Total and Atacama Consulting.

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Besides being unhappy about the activities of Total and Atacama, the investigation revealed that the people of Ngwedu are losing their hopes in the government and leadership of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and that of Buliisa district Local government. The investigation found out that people are losing their lands, their crops are being destroyed by the Total and Atacama Consulting.

Although Total and Atacama Consulting are compensating some people, it should be noted that the compensation being given to these people are very less and in most cases are being imposed and with some communities saying they have received no compensation whatsoever for the loss of their land, burial sites, trees, Total and the Atacama declined to comment on this allegation when the Albertine Watch contacted them for comments.

Fields observations revealed that compliance of international law and best practices regarding Oil and gas exploration and drilling activities are not being met by the Total and Atacama Consulting.

The community of Ngwedu are largely blaming President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda and Buliisa district Local government, law enforcement agencies and Kampala based NGOs operating in the Buliisa district whose activities are not visible on the grounds despite of increasing cases of violation of people’s rights.

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Corporate social responsibility means respecting the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the local communities. All measures must be undertaken from a long term perspective, permitting the local communities to engage in sustainable development in what is already going to result into heavily polluted lands and force displacements of ten thousand peoples of Ngwedu to leave lands for Oil production activities by Total.

The people of Ngwedu are requesting the Total and Atacama Consulting to leave their lands and stop operations because their activities are not friendly and that Total and Atacama should take away all their machinery from Ngwedu because they lack community consent and approvals. The people that the Albertine Watch spoke to mentioned that should any employee of Total and Atacama Consulting is found sexually abusing women or intimidating community’s member, they will be killed.

Exploration drilling in Block 1 of the Lake Albert Region

Photos/Global rights Alerts

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