By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Kampala, Uganda: On Friday, Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have appeared before East African Court of Justice that sits at Commercial Court, Kampala-Uganda regarding the case they filed challenging the way in which the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) agreement was signed.
It should be remembered that in December 2020 CEFROHT and other CSOs filed a case challenging Governments of Uganda, Tanzania and Total for not considering a number of human rights issues and climate critical issues in the implementation of the project and demanded, that some of these issues of contention be given attention before anything serious goes on.
Represented by Counsel David Kabanda who doubles as the Executive Director of CEFROHT, CSOs urge that the EACOP deal had a lot of inadequacies that needed to be corrected before signing it.
They say that the project is untenable as it is likely to cause more climatic change crisis loss of biodiversity and livelihood.
CSOs realize that the EACOP Project is to go through the Lake Victoria basin which directly translates to destruction of the ecosystem yet the lake serves not only East African but entire Africa by providing fish, water and rain.
It is against this background that CSOs file seeks Court to declare and issue a permanent injunction against EACOP going through protected and ecologically sensitive areas and Lake Victoria basin.
“The project will be associated with high heated pipes with oil spills ending up in Lake Victoria waters which is a disaster to the East African population and the environment”. Counsel Kabanda.
Counsel David Kabanda who doubles as the Executive Director of Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT). Courtesy Photo.
The court session chairedby judges Honorable Mr. Justice Yohane Masara-Principal Judge, Honorable Justice Dr. Charles Nyawello-Deputy Principal Judge, Honorable Mr. Justice Richard Muhumuza, Hon. Mr. Justice Richard Wejuli and Hon. Justice Dr. GacukoLeonard facilitated a scheduling conference aiming at issues that it will base on to start hearing the case among which will be whether EACOP Project is tenable and not contravening with EAC Treaty and other international laws.
Judges set out timelines giving governments of Uganda, Tanzania and East African Community Secretariat to file their submission by 2nd December, 2022, applicants on 16th December and any rejoinder by 30th December, 2022.
Note that, Uganda’s government is raising an issue that Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the matter because these are sovereign states that can deal with their matters and the court is not closed with powers to hear the case.
Government of Uganda is also arguing that it is past time because according to the East African Treaty, a party must file within 60 days from when one either learns or knows about the issue is filing. It says that the matter is time bad because they have been on this issue since 2017.
But in contrary, CSOs argue that they signed a host and inter-governmental in 2020.
So, court will have to determine that before it goes to the case.
Lawyers from CSOs of Uganda, Tanzania Strategic Litigation Centre and Nairobi were in attendance.