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Abduction of a Human Rights Defender from the Kingfisher Project Area

In a press release dated Tuesday, 4th June, 2024, Stephen Kwikiriza, a member of the Kingfisher community working with the Environment Governance Institute (EGI) in the oil project area, was abducted in Kampala by the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) on June 4, 2024, under alarming circumstances.

Stephen Kwikiriza went into town on the morning of June 4, 2024. His wife later reported that he was abducted by UPDF officers in plain clothes. He managed to send a text message to his colleague from EGI, Samuel Okulony, confirming his abduction by plain-clothed UPDF officers. No further communication has been received since. All his known phone numbers are currently off.

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 Total Energies is the main shareholder.

Stephen’s whereabouts and condition are unknown. A legal team is actively calling and visiting various military and police detention centers to locate him and intervene accordingly.

The Stop EACOP coalition members are even more concerned as, since mid-March, Stephen had been staying at a Safe House in an undisclosed location due to threats from the UPDF deployed in Kingfisher.

This follows the arrest of seven Ugandans on May 27, 2024 which took place outside the Chinese embassy in Kampala. They were arrested while attempting to deliver a petition outlining the adverse effects of the oil project, including the loss of their land, environmental degradation, and violations of human and community rights.

The Stop EACOP coalition and its national and international partners condemn this latest abduction and all the recent escalation of intimidations and arrests and urges the Ugandan authorities to release the human rights defender.

About EGI

The Environment Governance Institute (EGI) is a not-for-profit non-government organisation dedicated to promoting the sustainable management of environment natural resources in Uganda and the Great Lakes Region. Based in Kampala-Uganda, the organization was born out of the need to contribute to efforts to promote equitable utilization and the sustainable governance of natural resources for socio-economic development.


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