Statement of International Civil Society Organizations in response to the abduction of Stephen Kwikiriza, community environmental defender in Uganda

This is a joint statement by over 115 international civil society organizations to call upon the Ugandan authorities to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Stephen Kwikiriza, who has been held incommunicado since his abduction by plain clothed officers in Kampala on June 4th 2024.

This is a joint statement by over 115 international civil society organizations to call upon the Ugandan authorities to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Stephen Kwikiriza, who has been held incommunicado since his abduction by plain clothed officers in Kampala on June 4th 2024.

On June 4th 2024, Stephen Kwikiriza, a member of the Kingfisher community, was abducted in Kampala under alarming circumstances. The Kingfisher project is an oil project in western Uganda on the shores of Lake Albert, developed by the Chinese company China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), of which TotalEnergies is the main shareholder. The project will extract oil to be transported by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

Stephen went into town that morning. His wife later reported that he was abducted by the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF, Ugandan army) officers in plain clothes. He managed to send a text message to the Environmental Governance Institute (EGI), a local organization supporting project affected persons, confirming his arrest. No further communication has been received from Stephen since. All his known phone numbers are currently off. On June 5th 2024, Stephen’s wife reported the case of the missing person at the Seeta police station, but has yet to hear anything and still no information has been provided about him. The lawyers are finalizing an application for habeas corpus demanding all the security agencies in Uganda produce Stephen in court.

Stephen’s abduction follows previous threats he received from the UPDF deployed in Kingfisher, due to which he had been staying in an undisclosed safe location since mid-March. We are strongly concerned that the abduction of Stephen is a retaliation for speaking out against human rights abuses and threats to the livelihood of his community due to the Kingfisher oil project.

The abduction of Stephen fits into a broader pattern of indiscriminate violence against local communities, activists, students, journalists, and environmental groups speaking out against human rights abuses and threats to the environment due to oil projects in Uganda. On May 27th, seven Stop EACOP activists were arrested outside the Chinese embassy in Kampala for holding a peaceful demonstration calling on China to stop plans to support EACOP. They were released on police bond and are still battling police cases. Again, on May 30 2024, a group of project affected community members protested and later presented a petition to Daqing Oilfield Construction Group, a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned oil and gas giant China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), concerning the impacts of the project on their livelihoods. On June 3rd, one of them was arrested and detained in Kikuube police station while others managed to escape and remain on the run.

The signatories of this statement stand in solidarity with Stephen, EGI and Ugandan civil society organizations and urge the Ugandan authorities to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Stephen Kwikiriza, as the undersigned believe that he was abducted and is being held solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in defense of human rights and the environment.
  • Ensure Stephen’s human rights are respected and, pending his release, ensure that the treatment of Stephen Kwikiriza adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment’, adopted by the UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988.
  • Cease all forms of harassment of civil society organisations and community members living in and speaking out on the EACOP Kingfisher project and all other related oil projects, including the Tilenga project, and guarantee in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisal.


Both ENDSGlobal
350 USUS
Reclaim FinanceInternational
Friends of the Earth EuropeBelgium
Africa Coal NetworkAfrica
350Africa.orgRegional – Africa
Amis de la Terre France / Friends of the Earth FranceFrance
NOAH – Friends of the Earth DenmarkDenmark
Friends of the Earth U.S.United States
Coal Action NetworkUnited Kingdom
Centre for Citizens Conserving Environment & Management (CECIC)Uganda
Friends of the Earth InternationalInternational
Global WitnessUK
Climate RIghts InternationalGlobal
Christian Climate ActionUnited Kingdom’s
Strategic Response on Environmental ConservationUganda
Inclusive Development InternationalUnited States
Tipping Point UKUnited Kingdom
Organization For Community Engagement (OCE)Tanzania
Justice Movement UgandaUganda
Human Rights Media TrustSouth Africa
Climate ClockDemocratic Republic of Congo
Fridays For Future UgandaUganda
198 methodsUnited States
Green Conservers (GC)Tanzania
Tasha research Institute AfricaUganda
Laudato Si’ MovementGlobal
Quest For Growth and Development FoundationNigeria
The Green ConnectionSouth Africa
Extinction Rebellion HaringeyUnited Kingdom
Centre for Social Change, University of JohannesburgSouth Africa
Center for Environmental Research and Agricultural InnovationsUganda
Youth for environmental justice and climate Action (YEVA)Uganda
CESTA Amigos de la TierraEl Salvador
Youth for Green Communities (YGC)Uganda
Vessel Project of LouisianaUnited States
International Union of the Conservation of Nature – Committee of the NetherlandsNetherlands
Just ShareSouth Africa
Mouvement EcologiqueLuxembourg
Greater Whange Residents TrustZimbabwe
Movimiento Rios VivosCosta Rica
Amadiba crisis committee, South AfricaSouth Africa
Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign Against PovertyTanzania
Extinction Rebellion UKUnited Kingdom
Earthlife Africa JhbSouth Africa
Pro Natura / Friends of the Earth SwitzerlandSwitzerland
Dhrubotara Youth Development FoundationBangladesh
Justice Institute GuyanaGuyana
Natural JusticeSouthern Africa
Armenian Women for Health and Healthy EnvironmentArmenia
Bank.GreenUS, UK
Finance for Systemic Change, University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom
Friends of the Earth MaltaMalta
Rinascimento GreenItaly
Breakfree SuisseSuisse
Laudato ‘si’Tanzania
Global Gas and Oil NetworkGlobal -present in all regions
  Agir pour la Reconstruction de Notre Espace et la Convivialité en sigle AGIRECDemocratic Republic of Congo
Centre pour la Justice Environnementales-TogoTogo
Solidarite CI suturaSénégal
European Coordination Via CampésinaEuropa
Reclaim FinanceMonde
Center for International Environmental LawUSA
MenaFem Movement for Economic, Development And Ecological JusticeMorocco/MENA
ElsploitatieNetherlands / Pays-Bas
Coordinadora de organización campesinas e indigenas de la huasteca potosina ACMexico
UNION DES FEMMES OPPRIMEESDemocratic Republic of Congo
Let’s stop Eacop UKUnited Kingdom
Red de Información y Acción Ambiental de VeracruzMexique
Africans RisingAfrica wide
Western Agency for Sustainable DevelopmentUganda
Plateforme Haitienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement Alternatif (PAPDA)Haiti
CartoCrítica, A.C.Mexico
Génération Consciente pour l’Environnement et la Culture ( GCEC Cameroun )Cameroun
Leave it in the Ground Initiative (LINGO)Germany
Coordination Climat Justice SocialeSwitzerland
Conexiones ClimáticasMéxico
AidClimat/Coalicion global de los pueblos frente al extractivismoSenegal
Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)Uganda
Extinction Rebellion HoustonUSA
Alianza Mexicana contra el FrackingMéxico
Extinction Rebellion UKUnited Kingdom
Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights IncorporatedPapua New Guinea
Bargny coast waterkeeperSénégal
BreakFree CollectiveSwitzerland
Green ConserversTanzania
Health Of Mother Earth Foundation South SudanSouth Sudan
Center for Biological DiversityUnited States
Extinction Rebellion Cape TownSouth Africa
Haki YetuKenya
Centre for Natural Resource GovernanceZimbabwe
Landless Peoples Movement SASouth Africa
Amigos de la Tierra en EspañaSpain
Oil Change InternationalGlobal
Instituto NaturaPeru
Gram Bharati SamitiIndia
Climate ClockDemocratic Republic of Congo
Socio Economic Research and Development Centre SERDECNigeria
Kalkal Human Rights Development Organization (KAHRDO)  Somalia
Lutte et ContemplationFrance

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