Home News CSOs condemn torture, human rights violation at Kingfisher Oil Development area

CSOs condemn torture, human rights violation at Kingfisher Oil Development area


A section of activists have condemned what they called continuous gross human rights violation being meted on the people living near Kingfisher Oil Development Area (KFDA).

KFDA, which is being developed by the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) is expected to produce 40,000 barrels of oil daily when production starts next year.

In a joint statement released today, 12 non-governmental rights organisations said the violation of human rights in the area are increasingly worsening.

They cited that soldiers attached to the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF), on January 15, allegedly burnt 15 fishing boats, fishing nets, and other important instruments vital to the livelihoods of local villagers in KFDA.

The boats and supplies supported up to 60 families through the traditional arrangement of African communal “Ubuntu” sharing, according to the Civil Society Coalition for Sustainable Development, a group of Ugandan environmental and human rights civil society organizations.

“This unprecedented act of large-scale destruction ripped hundreds of villagers from their primary means of livelihood overnight, and signals an alarming escalation in the ongoing military deployment around the Kingfisher installations,” reads part of the statement.

They noted that around 19 community members were arrested, following the burning of fishing boats, according to local testimonies.

“As the leading project proponent in the Kingfisher oil development area, CNOOC has a responsibility to call for the end of the use of excessive forces by the Ugandan government in annihilating the only source of livelihood of the local project-affected fisher families. The extreme violations run counter to China’s state commitment for the security and prosperity for the local population when CNOOC began the project”, said Wawa Wang director of Just Finance International.

As China’s largest investor in Uganda, CSOs said that the parastatal oil firm CNOOC has overseen oil operations in the Kingfisher area, along the shores of Lake Albert, since 2013.

“In the intervening decade, local communities have reported rising deployment and activity of UPDF soldiers to guard CNOOC’s installations. If seen near the lake, villagers have been beaten or apprehended. Military forces have also arbitrarily seized several fishing boats from the community without notice or explanation,” they said.

Adding, “Project affected community members say the promise of development and prosperity the project was meant to bring, brought false hope, as one community member told the coalition,”

“Our people endure beatings, arrests and burnt boats. How can we survive? Our businesses collapsed during Covid. As we try to recover, CNOOC’s operations destroy our only hope…they must learn to respect the people they found here,” the statement adds

According to CSOs, the development on the Kingfisher oil fields has been marred by numerous grievances since inception.

According to estimates by government, over 700 people have been forcefully displaced from their land, with many of them remaining landless to this day due to inadequate compensation.

The project has also caused significant environmental harm, including the heavy pollution of water sources used by communities for their households and livestock. Around the shores of Lake Albert, project-associated military deployments have created an environment of intimidation and threats.

But the recent targeting of fishing apparatus – upon which the local populations rely for their primary means of livelihood – threatens the communities’ most basic ability to survive. 

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