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Agro EcoEnergy sues Tanzania after govt. cancels project due to concerns over human rights impacts

22 Sep 2017 — "Not So Sweet: Tanzania Confronts Arbitration over Large-Scale Sugarcane and Ethanol Project" Large-scale agricultural investments raise a number of challenges: negative environmental and social impacts, often borne primarily by local communities and land users, as well as operational and reputational risks, which have pained many an investor. Host governments also confront a number of challenges arising from investments, from facilitating investments that align with sustainable development objectives, to monitoring investor compliance with relevant obligations and best practices regarding responsible investment. One challenge that receives less attention is the risk that governments run of being sued by investors when projects don’t proceed as planned, often for legitimate reasons. Tanzania is currently confronting this challenge, faced with a new international investment dispute tied to a proposed large-scale sugarcane and ethanol production project. The dispute concerns the Agro EcoEnergy project in Bagamoyo, a venture that has been criticized for its potential impacts on local farmers and villagers...In January 2015, the Tanzanian parliamentary committee on Land, Natural Resources, and Environment reportedly required the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Human Settlements Developments to recover 3,000 hectares of the land allocated for the project that fell within the national park; the following year, the entire project was reportedly halted. The claim against Tanzania is being brought by four companies involved in the project, under a bilateral investment treaty in force between Sweden and Tanzania. It will be determined by means of investor-state arbitration, a unique and privileged form of dispute settlement available to foreign investors under many international investment agreements (IIAs), including the Sweden-Tanzania treaty. Investors with recourse to investor-state arbitration can bypass domestic court systems, bringing their claims directly before an international panel of arbitrators.

Tanzania: Govt. seizes Petra Diamond's consignment allegedly for tax evasion, company denies allegations

18 Sep 2017 — "Petra suspends mining after diamonds seizure by Tanzania" Tanzania’s Petra Diamonds has suspended operations at one of its mines after...President John Magufuli’s administration...[seized] its minerals...Last week, Tanzania announced that it would nationalise the diamond consignment owned by Petra that was en route to Belgium after the government claimed it had been under-declared by more than $14.8 million. “While Williamson Diamonds declared in its documentation that the value of the diamonds was $14.798 million, a fresh valuation done by the government established that the actual value of the diamonds is $29.5 million. Legal actions to be taken include nationalisation of all the diamonds seized if it is established that there was cheating involved in declaring the actual value of the minerals,” Tanzania’s Finance and Planning Ministry said in a statement. The diamond miner in its reaction to the seizure, and subsequent questioning of its employees as part of an investigation into the country’s mining industry said it is be suspending its operations for safety and security reasons. Petra, however, said it would engage the government in order to resolve the issue. “Petra confirms that a parcel of diamonds (71,654 carats) from the Williamson mine in Tanzania has been blocked from export to Petra’s marketing office in Antwerp and certain key personnel from Williamson are being questioned by the authorities. However, the grounds upon which these actions have been taken have not been formally made known to the company as yet,” the company said.

Tanzania: Govt. to probe if Petra Diamonds paying fair share of taxes, company says it complies with local legislation

8 Sep 2017 — "Tanzania orders review of Petra Diamonds contract in mining crackdown" Tanzanian President John Magufuli has ordered a review of a Petra Diamonds Ltd contract and asked senior public officials to resign over the outcome of an investigation into the mining sector...The moves are the latest attempt by Magufuli to tighten control over the mining industry to boost government revenues and stamp out alleged corruption. “I have endorsed all the recommendations of the parliamentary probe committees for the review of the Williamson diamond mine contract,” Magufuli said in a televised broadcast. London-listed Petra has a 75 percent stake in the mine, while the government owns the rest...Petra said in a statement that its business was conducted in a transparent manner and that it had complied with all legislation in Tanzania. The mine accounted for 18 percent of Petra’s revenue last year...Magufuli also said he had ordered law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of under-declared diamond exports. The president’s actions are a continuation of a crackdown in a mining sector that accounts for about 4 percent of Tanzania’s gross domestic product. Magufuli has sent shockwaves through the mining industry in Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer since his election late in 2015 with actions he says are aimed at ensuring that mining companies pay a fair share of taxes.  

Tanzania: Small-scale tanzanite miners not paying taxes to local authority, depriving locals of social services from mining revenue

4 Sep 2017 — "2,000 Tanzanite Mining Firms 'Evade Taxes'" As the government gears to establish a tanzanite processing zone, the move has been proved essential as most of the jewel is smuggled, resulting in revenue losses. Local leaders here have volunteered information that out of about 2,000 companies engaging in tanzanite mining, a mineral that is only available in Tanzania, do not pay taxes to the Simanjiro District Council as required by the law. Endiamtu Councillor, Mr Phillemon Oyogo and Tanesco Street Chairman, Mr Justin Sarakikya...said the investors are getting the precious jewel without being accountable in terms of taxes. Mr Oyogo...said if all respective dues were paid to the district council, Simanjiro would be much developed, providing social services and taking people out of poverty. Addressing reporters who toured the mining area, the councillor said there are more than 1,960 registered companies operating at Mirerani in Manyara Region, but only 10 out of them pay the required dues. Mr Oyogo said that the non-compliance has resulted in poor service delivery by Simanjiro District Council, questioning why such a situation is tolerated while in other areas, companies were shouldering their responsibilities by making local towns prosper. He said that he was armed with documents from the council of companies that pay the levies as passed by Simanjiro councillors. He added that it did not ring into the mind why only 10 companies pay taxes, calling upon district authorities to take swift action so that the government gets its fair share.

Tanzania: Local communities to be impacted by large scale projects should be consulted prior to implementation

28 Aug 2017 — "How infrastructure projects impact the host communities" The construction of oil and gas infrastructure, dams, pipelines [and] processing plants has shown that the process is not without negative impacts to host communities...The situation is worse in poorly planned projects, which are often characterised by underestimation of social impacts... [In regard to the Uganda-Tanzania oil pipelinem, Mr. Raymond Njogoro, a resident of one of the host communities] expressed his concerns that adequate knowledge was required to educate the majority of host communities...[who] lacked knowledge about the project.

Workshops equiping African lawyers on responsible business practices, incl. UN Guiding Principles

15 Aug 2017 — "Supporting African advisers on responsible business: A&O and A4ID partner with the East Africa Law Society to deliver workshops for African lawyers on business and human rights" Alongside rapid economic growth and thriving investment in East Africa, there is increasing demand for responsible business practices and corporate accountability when things go wrong. To help legal advisers navigate human rights risks and opportunities for business, Allen & Overy (A&O), and an award-winning development law charity, Advocates for International Development (A4ID), have teamed up with the East Africa Law Society (EALS) to provide free workshops on business and human rights for lawyers in Uganda and Tanzania. The peer-to-peer workshops...will continue dialogue with East African lawyers about the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a globally agreed standard on managing human rights impacts linked to business activity...The workshops will draw on practical examples, including from the extractive and manufacturing industries, which are particularly relevant for African lawyers advising business... Together with A4ID, the workshops combine the expertise of A&O’s Africa Group and Human Rights Working Group, drawing on over 250 lawyers throughout the firm’s network of 44 offices.  Over the past 25 years, the A&O Africa Group, together with selected local counsel, has advised clients on numerous large scale international transactions across the continent, providing an integrated service for clients doing business in Africa. Further workshops are planned for lawyers in Burundi, Kenya and Zanzibar later in the year.  

Uganda & Tanzania: Civil society groups call for fair compensation of families to be displaced to pave way for oil pipeline construction

10 Aug 2017 — "Civil society calls for fair compensation of oil pipeline victims" Civil society organizations have called upon the governments of Tanzania and Uganda to develop Resettlement Action Plans in a participatory and transparent manner...[following the] envisaged construction of the Hoima-Tanga crude oil pipeline...The chairman of Northern Coalition on Oil and Gas, Mr. Josiah Severre...insisted the compensation must be based on fair market value... Mr. Severre also urged the two governments and the companies which will be implementing the project to establish a mechanism to handle grievances from the community. "Grievances should be addressed timely. The affected communities should be involved fully. We want the process of addressing complaints to be clear, consistent and transparent", he said.

Les Commissions foncières d’Afrique veulent sécuriser les droits fonciers des communautés locales

2 Aug 2017 — "Les Commissions foncières d’Afrique s’engagent à sécuriser les droits fonciers communautaires", 25 juillet 2017 Pour la première fois se sont réunis à Accra au Ghana les commissaires africains en charge du foncier. Ils ont affirmé leur volonté de faire progresser les réformes politiques, juridiques et réglementaires dans leurs pays respectifs et à assurer leur mise en œuvre effective afin de reconnaître les droits fonciers communautaires et de sécuriser les terres communautaires. Les terres communautaires sont un enjeu important car elles représentent la majorité des terres du continent. Les systèmes fonciers coutumiers représentent en moyenne 70% de la masse des droits fonciers dans tous les pays. «Nous acceptons de poursuivre les efforts pour identifier, reconnaître et protéger les droits fonciers des communautés, y compris les groupes les plus vulnérables, qui sont les jeunes, les femmes, les nomades, les personnes handicapées et d'autres groupes ayant des liens solides avec leurs terres», indique une résolution des Commissaires aux droits fonciers...les commissaires soulignent que seule la reconnaissance des droits fonciers traditionnels par les commissions foncières nationales ne suffit pas et qu’il faut s’attacher à travailler à l'égalité des droits, à l'expropriation, aux moyens accessibles d'obtenir un crédit et des certificats fonciers juridiquement contraignants. En outre, une attention particulière sera portée sur les femmes, les jeunes et les personnes vulnérables, en établissant des quotas pour ces groupes. Autre point souligné, la nécessité de relocaliser les autorités de gestion des terres dans des zones plus proches des communautés et à renforcer leurs capacités...les commissaires ont convenu d'adopter et de renforcer des méthodes alternatives pour la résolution des conflits, dans des contextes où il est difficile pour les communautés d'accéder aux systèmes de justice de l'État, en particulier à la lumière de la distance entre les tribunaux et les zones rurales, les coûts des procédures, le manque de sensibilisation..«Il est donc essentiel de s'appuyer sur des méthodes de résolution de conflits qui sont proches, moins coûteuses pour les communautés, plus efficaces et adaptées aux coutumes locales pour la résolution des conflits. Les institutions locales pour la gestion des conflits devraient être renforcées et mieux soutenues et réglementées par l'État », ont-ils déclaré..  

Landgrabbing und Menschenrechte: Studie über die Rolle von EU-Akteuren im Ausland zeigt Handlungsbedarf; enthält Stellungnahmen der Unternehmen

24 Jul 2017 — Im Mai 2016 wurde im Auftrag des Europäischen Parlaments die Studie „Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Involvement of European Corporate and Financial Entities in Land Grabbing outside the European Union“ veröffentlicht. Die Publikation dokumentiert u.a. Fälle von Landgrabbing in Sambia, Uganda, Kongo und Mosambik und beschreibt eine Vielzahl bislang ausgebliebener Handlungsmöglichkeiten der EU und ihrer Mitgliedstaaten, um das weltweite Landgrabbing zu reduzieren. Zu den folgenden Fällen, die im Bericht erwähnt werden, hat das Business & Human Rights Resource Centre bereits Stellungnahmen eingeholt: - Neumann Kaffee Gruppe in Uganda - EcoEnergy in Tanzania - Socfin in Sierra Leone - Khon Kaen Sugar in Cambodia - Siemens und Voith in Honduras. ABP und das Bundesentwicklungsministerium (BMZ) in Bezug auf den African Agricultural Trade and Investment Fund (AATIF) äußerten sich jeweils in den Medien zu Fällen [ABP nur auf Englisch].

Land grabbing & human rights: Report examines role of European corporate & financial entities

1 Aug 2017 — In May 2016 the report "Land Grabbing and Human Rights: The Involvement of European Corporate and Financial Entities in Land Grabbing outside the European Union" was published on behalf of the European Parliament. The report examines cases of land grabbing in Zambia, Uganda, Congo and Mozambique and describes a number of possibilities for action by the EU and its Member States to reduce global land grabbing. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre previously sought statements in relation to the following cases, which are mentioned in the report: - Neumann Kaffee Gruppe in Uganda - EcoEnergy in Tanzania - Socfin in Sierra Leone - Khon Kaen Sugar in Cambodia - Siemens and Voith in Honduras. ABP and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) regarding the African Agricultural Trade and Investment Fund (AATIF) commented in media reports [BMZ only in German].