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Re:wild statement on Namibian court’s decision to delay punishment of local communities for opposing devastating oil and gas drilling project

For immediate release, February 18, 2023

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On Feb. 17, after mounting pressure at home and abroad, the Namibian High Court decided to delay its decision on whether to punish local Kavango communities for their opposition to Canadian oil and gas company ReconAfrica. The High Court was originally set to decide on Tuesday, Feb. 21, whether the local communities have to pay nearly USD$35,000 to cover the government’s legal fees after the court rejected their request for urgent help to prevent Canadian company ReconAfrica from continuing to drill for oil and gas on community-managed land.

The new date is set for May 16.

Namibian activists are moving forward with a protest next week, calling on the court to waive the fees and for Namibia’s minister of the environment and tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, to hear their original appeal to review the renewal of ReconAfrica’s drilling license, approved in 2022.

Re:wild joins local community leaders, activists and civil society organizations in urgently calling for the government to waive these outrageous and punitive fees that now force local communities to live with uncertainty and fear for another three months. We ask the court and government to instead support the rights of these communities fighting for their beloved Kavango and to take a stand for a sustainable future for Namibia.

We will continue to support our partners and friends in Namibia, whose courage, unwavering determination and vision for a healthy planet inspire us every single day. We are committed to ensuring that those who refuse to be silenced are heard.

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Photo: ReconAfrica’s first project site in Namibia, at Kawe village. (Courtesy of Re:wild)

Re:wild
Re:wild protects and restores the wild. We have a singular and powerful focus: the wild as the most effective solution to the interconnected climate, biodiversity and human wellbeing crises. Founded by a group of renowned conservation scientists together with Leonardo DiCaprio, Re:wild is a force multiplier that brings together Indigenous peoples, local communities, influential leaders, nongovernmental organizations, governments, companies and the public to protect and rewild at the scale and speed we need. Learn more at rewild.org.

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