On February 9, 2021, RRI, the International Land Coalition (ILC), and the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) launched their new analysis, Paying the Price, an analysis on criminalization of land and environmental rights defenders in East Africa. The study was launched at a webinar that brought together prominent voices from civil society, academia and governments in East Africa to discuss what these findings mean for the future of land-based investment in the region – and for those who are defending their rights.
The global economic crisis, coupled with rapid population and national economic growth, have catapulted the demand for land-based investments in East Africa. Unsurprisingly, the result is rising pressure over land and the environment, often pitting governments, multinational companies and local private sector against the communities who depend on nature for their survival.
Land and environmental rights defenders are often the first line of defense in pushing back against land grabs and environmental destruction. For that, they pay the ultimate price, sometimes with their lives. These pressures are made worse by the shrinking civic space and democratic rollback across the continent, particularly in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Investigating the victimization of land and environmental rights defenders is more urgent today than ever before. Paying the Price: A study on Criminalization of Land and Environmental Rights Defenders in East Africa tracks cases of criminalization of land and environmental rights defenders in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and reviews regional and international instruments for their protection. It also maps organizations, strategies and resources to address this criminalization.