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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Activists, EACOP project-affected people face intimidation in Tanzania – Group

An association of some 78 organisations has expressed concern regarding what it terms an escalating intimidation of Project-Affected People (PAPs) and activists who are raising their voices against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project in Tanzania.

StopEACOP campaigners

On March 11, 2024, nine PAPs from Golimba and Diloda villages in Hanang District, Tanzania, reported to the District Commissioner’s office after receiving an official summons from the authorities on the 9th of March. They reportedly arrived to find police officers waiting for them. The PAPs were then split up and interrogated for several hours.

“It has been reported to us that during these interrogations, the PAPs were asked why they are resisting and/or are opposed to the EACOP project, who is supporting them, and whether they know and/or are working with specific Tanzania Civil Society actors who have been working to shed light on the environmental harm and human rights violations associated with the EACOP project,” stated the group.

They were subsequently released with instructions to report back to the Katesh police station on March 14 for further interrogation. The PAPs reportedly complied with the order and reported back to the police station on March 14 with a legal support team present. They were then told to report back on March 28th, 2024. As of today, no charges have been filed.

“We are aware that when the PAPs arrived at the police station on March 11, officials took their phones away and have not given them back to date.

“This incident follows a disturbing pattern of arbitrary arrests and intimidation aimed at individuals who express criticism of the EACOP project. Notably, a similar situation occurred late last year when a Tanzanian activist was targeted and summoned to appear at the Stakishari police station in Dar es Salaam, upon returning from COP28.”

Consequently, the group wants the Tanzanian government to:

  • Immediately cease the harassment and intimidation of PAPs and activists who are exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
  • Ensure transparency and accountability in all matters related to the EACOP project.

They also called on TotalEnergies and CNOOC, the leading companies involved in EACOP, to:

  • Publicly denounce the human rights violations taking place in Tanzania in connection with the project.
  • Uphold their commitment to respecting communities and operating with the highest ethical standards.
  • Refrain from placing profits above the well-being of local populations and the environment.

They further urged the international human rights organisations to:

  • Take proactive measures to monitor and investigate these incidents and hold those responsible to account.
  • Provide support and protection to individuals who are targeted for speaking out against the EACOP project.

The EACOP pipeline spans 1443 km, running from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga in Tanzania. Due to worries about the project’s possible effects on the environment, the insufficient compensation measures for the displaced populations, and the livelihood losses, the project has encountered some resistance. The project’s compliance with human rights norms is questioned in light of these recent intimidating instances.

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