Ugandan NGO gets prestigious Human Rights Award
Congratulations to our brave colleagues from the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) from Uganda! At last, their work received official recognition, as on International Human Rights Day, NAPE was awarded a prestigious Human Rights Award by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), endorsed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). To Frank Muramuzi, executive director of NAPE, the award is a tribute to the organisation’s long time work in fighting for the sustainable use of Uganda’s natural resources and the rights of communities affected by large scale development processes in the country.
Fighting the power
Ever since it was founded in 1997, NAPE’s advocacy work has been focusing on dams and energy, on climate change, water governance, the extractive industry and on infrastructure development programmes. NAPE has stood out against land grabbing by powerful and corrupt corporations. On several occasions, NAPE directly criticised the government and large corporations because of unwise conversion of natural resources into plantations and industrial complexes. Recently, for example, NAPE dragged to court the Rose Bud Flower Company affecting the good health of Lake Victoria by cultivating the Lutembe wetlands.
Viewed in this light, the award was quite unexpected. As Betty Obbo from NAPE puts it: “We all know that freedom and dignity are not privileges; they are acquired as a birthright of every person. It is also important to know that Justice and fairness are ideals; they are the linchpins of a civilized society. Ironically, today these rights are not given to us freely; they must be won by men and women of courage. We all need respect for human rights, we need it now and we strive to achieve it. But it is only when we realize that collective gains come through huge personal dedication and sometimes at the price of personal sacrifice.”
We will continue, no matter what
“On the other hand”, Betty continues, “the ideals of a democratic nation must be reflected in its ability to respect rights of its citizens. Government must strive to ensure that its citizens enjoy their rights. It is our resolve at NAPE that we stand with the environment and the communities who are often times victims of poor decisions-making by government, and suffer suppression from corporation. Even when NAPE has been called economic saboteurs and other kinds of names, we know that there are men and women in the country who understand the good intentions of our work. Therefore, we wish to thank the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), together with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and their major partners for recognizing our work.” Both ENDS has been working with NAPE from the start and will continue to support the difficult work it is doing as where possible.
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