Uganda: Arbitrary detention and release of Mr. Jelousy Mugisha following his testimony in France in a case against Total

UGA 002 / 1219 / OBS 106
Arbitrary detention / Release /
Harassment
Uganda
December 17 , 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Uganda.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and release of Mr. Jelousy Mugisha, pastor, community leader and human and environmental rights defender in Uganda.

According to the information received, on December 14, 2019 at 10.15 am, Mr. Jelousy Mugisha was reportedly arrested by immigration officials of Uganda upon arrival at the airport of Entebbe, Uganda. He was coming back from Paris (France), where he testified on December 12, 2019 within the framework of a case brought by two French non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Survie and Friends of the Earth France, as well as four Ugandan NGOs against the French oil company Total for alleged human and environmental violations triggered by its operations in Uganda, where it is one of two operating partners of the Lake Albert Oil Project, together with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

In June 2019, the six NGOs presented Total with a formal request to revise its vigilance plan [1] and to implement that plan at the level of the oil project in Uganda. After an unsatisfactory response to the formal request by Total, a legal action was launched on October 23, 2019. The complainants argued that the company failed to comply with its obligations under the French duty of vigilance law. The summary hearing which took place on December 12 before the First Instance Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) of Nanterre lasted more than 2.30 hours. The judgment is expected to be issued on January 30, 2020. According to the information received, Mr. Mugisha had received threats throughout the week preceding his trip to Paris.

At around 7 pm on December 14, Mr. Jealousy Mugisha was finally released from custody. During his nine-hour detention, he was interrogated about the reasons of his involvement in the above-mentioned legal action against Total in France. As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, no charges would be pending against him.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the arbitrary detention and harassment of Mr. Jealousy Mugisha, which seems to be only aimed at punishing him from his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the authorities of Uganda to guarantee his physical and psychological integrity and to put an end to any form of harassment against him.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Uganda asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Jelousy Mugisha, as well as all human rights defenders in Uganda;

ii. Put an end to any form of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Jelousy Mugisha and all human rights defenders in Uganda, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1, 5 and 12.2;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Uganda.

Addresses:

• President Kaguta Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, Fax: +256 (0) 414 436 102 / + 256 41 4235459 / +256 41 4344012. E-mail: museveni@starcom.co.ug / aak@statehouse.go.ug
• General Jeje Odongo, Minister of Internal Affairs, Fax: +256 414343088
• Mr. Obiga Kania, State Minister for Internal Affairs, Fax: + 256 414343088
• Mr. William Byaruhanga, Attorney General, and Hon. Kahinda Otafiire, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Uganda, Fax: + 256 41 4250829. E-Mail: mojca@africaonline.co.ug
• Mr. Mike Chibita, Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Uganda, Fax: +256-414-258-565/341-316, Email: admin@dpp.go.ug
• Uganda Human Rights Commission, Email: uhrc@uhrc.ug Telephone: +256414348007
• Mr. Martin Ochola, Inspector General of Police, Telephone: +256 (0) 712 755 999
• Mr. Barasa Ogajo, Resident District Commissioner of Mbale, Telephone: +256772846478, Email: barasasuleimanogajo@gmail.com
• H.E. Christopher Onyanga Aparr, Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 340 70 30. Email: mission.uganda@ties.itu.int
• H.E. Mirjam Blaak Sow, Embassy of Uganda to the EU in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: + 32 2.763.04.38. Email: ugembrus@brutele.be, info@ugandamission-benelux.org
• H.E. Attilio Pacifici, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Uganda, Phone: +256 312-701 000, Fax: +256 414-233 708, Email: delegation-uganda-ppi@eeas.europa.eu
• Mr. Cathal Gilbert, HRD Focal Point, Delegation of the European Union in Uganda, Phone: +256 776 008 187, Email: cathal.gilbert@eeas.europa.eu.

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Uganda in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, December 17, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] The French law on the “duty of vigilance” of parent companies and ordering companies (dated March 27, 2017) requires large French companies to establish and implement a vigilance plan, designed to identify and prevent risks of serious human rights violations.

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