Hoima: Environmental Activist received death threats from the Hoima Resident District Commissioner (RDC).
On August 15, Batwaimasa Janepher, an Environmental Human Rights Defender working with the Navigators of Development Organisation (NAVODA) in the Albertine region was directly attacked by the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Mr.Samuel Kisembo Araali.In one of the meeting held at the Hoima district headquarters, Mr.Samuel Kisembo stated that Janepher Batwaimasa and her organization have been planted to fail the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in the 2021 elections and he threatened to use all possible avenues available for him to break Janepher legs in case she continues with her human rights works
This is not the first time Janepher and her organization are being targeted by the authorities and security personnel in the district. Recently, Janepher has received life-threatening and intimidating calls on her mobile phone, and via Whatsaap provoking her such that she can attack the government. She has also been forced by the (drivers) of Hoima Sugar factory, one of the large scale agribusiness in Hoima district that is implicated in Human rights violation, environmental destruction, and deforestations in and around Kigyayo in Kikube district to delete pictures which she had taken in regards to poor waste disposal by the factory.
These threats against Janepher come from state and security operatives in the region led by the Resident District Commissioner RDC who has continued call Janepher “promoter of foreign interests’.
The threats against Janepher and her organization is attributed to her human rights works of raising awareness on the increasing level of pollution and poor waste management and disposal by Hoima Sugar Factory. The threat is ongoing because the Indians who are the proprietors of the Hoima Sugar factory have continued to attack Janepher through the high profile government officials and the security apparatus. Recently, the security teams in Hoima District summoned Mr. Tusingwire Benon the Executive Director of NAVODA to go and explain more about their organization projects and their potential sources of funds.
The threats against Janepher and her organization are also linked to their land rights activism and active involvement in the sensitization of communities in the Albertine region of Uganda on their right to land, ownership and security, environmental protection, and right to clean environment, women rights, and access to justice.
Over time, Janepher and her organization have always published and shared information to stakeholders about different injustices being committed to communities, and environmental degradation throughout the Albertine region of Uganda. NAVODA as an organization is located in Hoima District but also works in Buliisa District in the Albertine Graben. NAVODA focuses on sensitization about environmental rights, land rights, general Human Rights. NAVODA works closely with women and indigenous communities in the Albertine region.
Janepher told the Albertine Watch she fears for her life and her family’s because she thinks she can be harmed any time if no protection is given to her.
Since the discovery of oil and gas in the Albertine region, it has come up with many negative and positive impacts. The sector sparked off issues of land and environment conflicts where many people are being displaced in a bid to put up factories for example Hoima sugar factory that evicted 4653 people who are currently leaving in a makeshift camp in Kigyayo in harsh conditions and the same factory has continued to pollute the environment due to the poor waste management and disposal, hence denying the community a right to own land and a clean environment. Since this happened, the community with the support of Janepher’s organization went to Court and Janepher has been at the front helping this community to access justice and create awareness and see it that they retain their land. This is the context in which the intimidation’s, harassment and threats are originating from against Janepher and her organization.
The Albertine Watch calls on the Hoima District Resident Commissioner and the security personnel in the district to stop threatening Human rights defenders and for the Hoima Sugar Limited to follow Human rights due diligence as well as the corporate responsibility to respect human rights