18th June, 2022
The Honourabel Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt. Hon. Mohammed Tunis,
The Honourable Members of the ECOWAS Parliament,
The Secretary General of the ECOWAS Parliament,
Distinguished members of the Press,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Please permit me to stand on all existing protocols.
My name is Rita Uwaka, I am a Nigerian working with Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Africa and I coordinate the Forest and Biodiversity Programme for Friends of the Earth Africa.
Friends of the EARTH Africa is a regional chapter of the world’s largest grassroot environmental justice organization with members in 73 countries across the world. FoE Africa member groups include Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.
Our thematic areas of work include: Forest & Biodiversity, Food sovereignty, Climate Justice and Energy, Economic Justice and Resisting Neoliberalism, with a Gender Justice Working Group.
Mr. Speaker, please permit me to introduce to you members of the FoE Africa delegation present here today. They include: Madam Aminata Massaqui from Sierra Leone-representing communities impacted by industrial plantation expansion, Philip Orok from communities impacted by Oil palm plantation in Cross River State Nigeria. Mary Animfrom Ghana, Gladys Osaghae from Nigeria.
Why are we here?
In 2020 Lagos Nigeria, Friends of the Earth Africa organized the First African Peoples Tribunal on Industrial Plantations on Industrial Plantations. The Tribunal recognized how deforestation and rush for African land for largescale agrocommodities expansion is causing systemic oppression, human rights violations with devastating impacts on indigenous peoples and local communities, including women who depend on forest and land for their daily survival.
Mr. Speaker, apart from exposing the adverse social, environmental and gender impacts of agribusinesses on African communities. It also highlighted the role of some Governments in promoting private interests of corporations over the public interest in Africa.
Ten cases across ten organizations from ten countries across East Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa. The ten countries were Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.
Almost two years after the first APT, we are seeing more violations associated with the activities of industrial plantation companies in West Africa and community territories across the continent.
Violations like militarization of communities that play host to these companies, the use of slap suit to silence the voice of environmental human rights defenders, intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders, pollution of surface and underground water bodies as a result of the over reliance of these companies on agrotoxins, more cases of labour exploitation and workers rights violations, workers including pregnant women are transported in open trucks to work locations with accident and deaths recorded.