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Ugandan lawyer drags govt to regional court over geological activities in mineral-rich Hoima district

The First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice days ago heard an application seeking for interim orders restraining the Ugandan government from conducting or reviving all geological activities and evicting people of Kibiro, Hoima District and the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara from their ancestral salt manufacturing lands or enacting any policy and legislation in that regard, until hearing and disposal of the main case (Reference No. 16 of 2020).

The applicant, lawyer Adam Kyomuhendo, alleges that geological activities (including for geothermal energy and electricity), mining and exploration are being carried out in that area, which is the site of the Kibiro Ancient Salt Manufacturing Works that are on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  

Kyomuhendo submitted that the activities complained of, concern spillages of noxious matter, fumes and substances and oil spillages that occurred in 2019 when a private contractor (Messrs Royal Techno Services Limited), hired by the government of Uganda (Respondent), engaged in drilling activities of Temperature Gradient Holes in Kibiro causing the damage. 

He argued that both the Application No. 16 of 2020 and Reference No. 16 of 2020 allege that the impugned activities of government of the Republic of Uganda at Kibiro violate fundamental principles of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on culture, environment and traditional religion. 

The Reference alleges that the proposal and preliminary actions by the Gov’t of Uganda to establish a geothermal electricity project at Kibiro Hotsprings village without prior and adequate consultation of the people in that area and Kingdom of Bunyoro Kitara is an infringement on their rights.  

The Lawyers representing the government of Uganda (Respondent) objected the prayers by the Kyomuhendo (Applicant) and submitted that the Applicant has no evidence to prove a prima facie case and did not demonstrate irreparable damages suffered if the injunction is not granted. The Respondent asked Court to dismiss the application with costs. The Court will deliver the ruling on notice. 

The matter was brought before Honourable Judges of the First Instance Division: Justice Yohane Masara (Principal Judge). Justice Audace Ngiye (Deputy Principal Judge) Justice Charles Nyachae, Justice Richard Wejuli and Justice Richard Muhumuza.  

Parties in Court were Adam Kyomuhendo Applicant (self-represented) and Counsel Wanyama Kodoli Principal State Attorney and  Clare Senior State Attorney represented the Attorney General of Uganda. 

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