Uganda: Yet more student climate activists behind bars

Arrest of students in Kampala on November 24, 2023 Police use force when breaking up the peaceful protest (© Bruce Nahabwe)

Nov 30, 2023

Ugandan police and authorities continue to criminalize students who oppose oil projects. On November 24, seven students were once again arrested in Kampala for peacefully protesting the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The young environmental activists are being held in Luzira Maximum Security Prison.

Civil society representatives describe the authorities’ actions as a “weaponization of the courts” against climate activists. The authorities are said to be “exploiting legal loopholes to incarcerate dissenters”.

The students were marching to Parliament to call for a halt to the EACOP pipeline. The action was prompted by reports that banks from China were considering financing controversial pipeline.

The activists were held in a police jail for four days before being moved to Luzira Maximum Security Prison, where they will initially be held until December 8. They were denied bail.

“As the world wakes up to the renewable energy transition, Uganda has chosen to forcefully silence youth fighting for all our futures. We must stand in solidarity with these activists unlawfully jailed for asserting their democratic and human rights,” reads a statement circulated via WhatsApp.

Rainforest Rescue calls on the Ugandan authorities to #FreeTheStudents immediately and uphold civic freedoms.

Students have been arrested on multiple occasions for speaking out against EACOP. Rainforest Rescue had previously campaigned for nine students that had spent more than a year in legal limbo until their case was dismissed on November 6, 2023.

A broad alliance of environmental and human rights organizations stands in opposition to the EACOP pipeline. Rainforest Rescue has published a petition on this issue. Please sign it if you haven’t already done so.

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