The Ugandan government has been dragged to the East African Court of justice for giving away part of the Bugoma Forest land to Hoima Sugar Limited for sugar cane growing and other related developments.
The Environment Shield Limited and human rights defender John Robert Turyakira, in a suit filed before the regional court say it was illegal for National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to issue a certificate of approval of the environmental and social impact assessment to Hoima Sugar Limited giving a green light to growing of sugarcanes on part of the forest land measuring approximately 9.24 square miles.
“The project area neighbors Bugoma central forest reserve which was gazzeted in 1932, a tropical high forest and home to over 600 chimpanzee and is part of its ecosystem. Sugarcane growing has adverse environmental and climate change impacts including pollution of water bodies, rivers and soil erosion,” petitioners revealed in documents filed before court.
Both petitioners reveal that before approval of the project, NEMA ignored the Climate Change Impact Assessment as necessitated by the dictate of contemporary environment governance pursuant to the Constitution of Uganda.
They also note that NEMA took it upon themselves to determine the fate of the natural asset without consultations from the communities surrounding the forest reserve as well as not considering environmental costs connected with the potential deterioration of natural assets.
“NEMA made the project approval without transparent, maximum and effective community or public participation or hearings in breach of the foundational principles of good governance, accountability, democracy, rule of law, transparency and universal human rights standards. The approval, therefore, threatens the area’s individuals’, community’s and public’s universal human rights standards,” revealed the petitioners.
The petitioners’ interest is for the East African Court of Justice to direct government to halt the certificate of approval issued to Hoima Sugar Limited for sugarcane growing and related developments.
They also appeal that the regional court directs government to ensure that prior to any similar project approvals; it conducts climate change impact assessment and human rights impact assessment where effective consultations from the public are made.
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