April 18, 2019

Digital Security training for Environmental Activists in Hoima

More than three people were murdered each week in 2018, with countless more criminalized, for defending their land and environment according to the Global Witness report. The situation is not different from that of the Albertine region of Uganda where Environmental activists and defenders of land rights campaigning against the destruction of their environment, land and more so a violation of human rights being perpetrated by the ongoing Oil and gas exploration activities in the region by multinational companies including Total and CNOOC . Exploitative activities like large scale sugar cane growing, logging as well as Oil and gas exploration activities in and within the Albertine graben are the major causes of attacks and threats to the Environmental activists in the region. Activists in Hoima are particularly vulnerable given their roles in environmental protection, land rights advocacy and human rights defense of the many people facing eviction by Hoima Sugar Limited, the Tilenga Project, King Fisher Project, and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline EACOP. Environmental activism and human rights advocacy in the Albertine region and Hoima specifically are getting increasingly dangerous. The threats and concerns Environmental activists in Hoima are facing are not limited to their physical safety; but also digital security. There is rampant digital or online security incidence include, but are not limited to, hacking of online content, digital data, email, etc. Activists are being threatened, blackmailed, harassed by law enforcement notably the Uganda Police, Oil and Gas protection Police, private security companies linked to Oil companies, the offices of Resident Distcit Commisoners RDCs among others. In order to protect these activists, between April 18-20, 2019, Ngetha Media Association for Peace conducted 3 days security workshop for the at-risk activists from various organizations that play critical roles in natural resources governance, human rights and environmental protection. The aim of the workshop was to educate Environmental activists in Hoima on how to secure their online presence, safe storage of information, communications security and tactics for prevention of digital harassment and to avoid digital surveillance by authorities and the Oil companies as well as the law enforcement.