Katiba Institute, with the support of the World Resources Institute and the Alliance for Land, Indigenous and Environment Defenders (ALLIED), undertook a training of advocates from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania on the criminalization of environment and land defenders(ELDs) on 27 March 2023.
The training sought to build the capacity of advocates who are connected to the ALLIED Coalition, Natural Justice, and Law Society of Kenya to support defenders. This is mainly because there are examples of criminalization of ELDs in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania which keep evolving and it is difficult for criminal lawyers to differentiate the defence tactics for ELDs. The training also provided a platform for advocates in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania to share their experiences on the evolving nature of laws that are being used to criminalize ELDs.
We hope that the training will equip the advocates with the necessary skills to offer pro-bono legal services to ELDs who are in dire need of legal support when criminalized.
Background and context
In Kenya, there have been several cases on the criminalization of indigenous people for living in their ancestral lands which are considered protected areas. In addition, some leaders of the Lamu community who protested about the implementation of the LAPPSET project, and the establishment of the Coal Fired Power Plant were brought in for questioning in relation to allegations of participation in violent extremism for which charges were never laid.
On 10 October 2022, students from several universities in Uganda were granted bail after being arrested for protesting in support of the European Union’s resolution to delay the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline. In Tanzania, following the violent evictions of the Maasai community from the Serengeti National Park, the government arrested Maasai pastoralists and charged them with the murder of a police officer with an arrow during the protests.