SEATINI Uganda and Other Stakeholders Demand for Investment Legal Frameworks and Policies that Promote Human and Environmental Rights
On 7th October 2021, SEATINI Uganda with support from Both ENDS and Third world Network held a multi-stakeholder engagement under the theme “Assessing Uganda’s Investment Frameworks in View of the Proliferating Number of Human and Business Rights Violations” so as to ensure that human and environmental rights are upheld and prioritized in Investment Schemes.
The meeting brought together representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working on Investment and Human Rights related Issues, officials from relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Media among others.
In her remarks, Ms Jane Nalunga, Executive Director, SEATINI Uganda emphasized that there is need for a win-win situation for investors, workers and the environment as well as a win for the State.
Ms Jane Nalunga also reiterated that increasingly, investments have come to be synonymous with Human Rights violations. She added that there is need to strengthen the role of the state to regulate investments to curb human rights violations.
‘‘SEATINI Uganda and other partners have been pushing to have an EAC model Investment Treaty. A regional model is important especially when it comes to competition and the race to the bottom,’’ Ms Jane Nalunga said.
Owere Usher Wilson, Chairman General, National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) emphasized that labor officers should be independent and should not be attached to any company for them to be able to effectively defend the rights of the workers like demanding for a minimum wage.
‘‘Most investors in Uganda do not respect rights of local workers and they mainly recruit people from their countries of origin. It is shocking that some of them do not even have work permits and are not qualified enough yet they supervise our well educated workers,’’ Mr Owere said.
Mr Moses Okwalinga, Chief Executive Officer, Uganda Law Society noted that there is need to review our investment regulatory framework and set standards that should be adhered to by investors to curb human rights violations.
‘‘As private players and investors pursue profit maximization, they should attach human dignity to their activities,’’ Abaho Herbert, Programme Officer, Resource Rights Africa.
As a way forward, participants and stakeholders called on Government of Uganda to address the following;
• Involve the people/host communities where investment/development projects are situated
• Include a provision on Social and Human Rights Impact Assessment in our Investment Code Act 2019 and the country’s Investment Agreements.
• Review the country’s trade and Investment Agreements to make them work for the people, communities and environment.
• Put in place an Investment Legislation that strictly focuses on Land Based Investments.
SEATINI Uganda together with partners are committed towards advocating for the enactment of Investment Policies, Laws and Agreements that balance between the rights of investors and their obligations to the State and the host communities.