Connect with us

Corporate Accountability

Are Court orders too weak to stop land evictions in Uganda?

Published

on

By witnessradio.org Team

Respect for rule of law is at stake in Uganda as court orders are not anymore powerful enough to stop land evictions, witnessradio.org can reveal. Mubende district in particular is singled out to be a classic example because it’s one of many districts that have proved to be epicenters of violent land evictions with high level of impunity.

 

Witnessradio.org has documented several cases where hundred of families have been violently lost their land to powerful local and international businessmen despite having court orders halting evictions. These include, Abid Allam who evicted people from over 18 square miles, Naava Milly Namutebi with support from Uganda People Defense Forces (UPDF) evicted people off 3.6 square miles and one Kananura, evicted families off 4 square miles at Kanyogoga village, Kanyogoga parish, Butoloogo sub county Mubende district.

 

Kibaaba Rwatangabo, 56, a victim of land eviction at Kayebe village said, court orders issued in favor of local communities are very weak to change the status quo. “We have been at Mubende district police several times with our court orders but police officers are not interested and their actions have had serious effects to our livelihood and survival among other direct and indirect effects…” said Kibaaba

 

The latest is a case of 200 families being evicted off two villages in Kayebe parish, Kitenga sub county in Mubende district despite having a court order. Two local business people namely; Mercy Ddungu and David Mugyenyi are accused of masterminding the  illegal eviction. The communities say they have lived on this land formerly a public land for decades.

 

Documents seen by witnessradio.org indicate that Mubende district land board issued land titles to Mugyenyi on August 15th 2016 and the land was registered on Block 373, plot 169 and Bock 373, plot 171. The same process that issued a freehold land title to business people is being protested by local communities saying, they have lived on this former public land since early 1970s and have never been consulted as bonafide occupants as the land Act 1998 requires.

 

On February 02nd, 2017, communities led by Mushuhukye Vicent, Asaba Kakuhirire and others went to court challenging what they called physical attacks being subjected to them by Ddungu and Mugyenyi. The attacks included cutting down of their food plantations, demolition of people’s houses and illegal arrest and detention by police in Mubende.

 

On October, 20th, 2017, Grade One Magistrate Naigaga Winfred Kyobiika issued an injunction restraining Mercy Ddungu and David Mugyenyi and their agents from further destruction of properties, trespassing and carrying out any activity on the land under contest until the main suit is heard and disposed off.

 

Its however to the contrary, Mercy Ddungu and Mugyenyi disrespected court orders and continued to hire casual laborers to cut down people’s food plantations and attacking residents under the watchful eye of Mubende police.   

 

Ddungu, told witnessradio.org that, there’s no forced eviction on her land. “when I first bought that land from the former owner, I never knew that there was a case in court until I met the claimants in court. While in court, we were asked to try out of court settlement and I have since reached an agreement with over 60% of occupants to get off my land” claims Ddungu.

Corporate Accountability

Investigate the criminalization of land rights defenders – witnessradio.org asks National Human Rights Body.

Published

on

By witnessradio.org Team

Kampala – Uganda – Witnessradio.org has petitioned the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) calling for investigations into the continued aiding of persecution of community land rights defenders and native land-owners.

Witnessradio.org, a land rights advocate is accusing some members of the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) namely; the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Police and Judiciary of fueling land grabbing and protecting the supposed investors, through promoting the use of the criminal offenses under the Penal Code Act against land rights defenders and native land-owners that resist illegal and violent evictions.

The petition is the first of its kind to bring criminalization of land rights defenders and land-owners issues to the attention of UHRC under Business and Human Rights thematic principles. UHRC is a constitutional body with obligations to protect and promote human rights in Uganda

“Witnessradio.org, expresses dismay and disappointment over the increasing violence orchestrated against bonafide land-owners and individual community land defenders by some justice, law and order sector members in order to give individual investors and companies access to people’s land and then dispose native

e communities”. The statement reads in part.

In the petition, the Executive Director, Mr Wokulira Geoffrey Ssebaggala says that the continued harassment of land-owners and community land rights defenders by Uganda police and the office of the director of public prosecution has immensely contributed to case backlog and subsequently overcrowding in prisons.

“According to the World prison’s brief of October 2017, Uganda has 54,059 people in Prisons implying that 129 prisoners for every 100,000 Ugandans”. Mr Ssebaggala says

He also says the rights of people to express themselves, to peacefully assemble and participate in decisions that affect them and to exercise the full panoply of individual and collective human rights has also been curtailed.

Witnessradio.org recommends that the Human Rights Commission investigates the continued aiding of persecution of community land rights defenders and land owns by JLOs members institutions to give way for land-related investments, make findings public.

It also recommends that the commission undertakes courtroom observer missions especially where land rights defenders are under trial starting with Mubende’s 2 land rights defenders trial.

The same petition has been copied to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner Human Rights and Democracy and Human Rights Donor, Working group.

Continue Reading

Corporate Accountability

A land grab case against a multi-million agribusiness Agilis Partners is saved from a dismissal

Published

on

By witnessradio.org Team

Masindi – Uganda – A case in which over 2300 families are accusing a multi-million agribusiness Agilis Partners limited of illegal eviction has been saved by the intervention of witnessradio.org‘s lawyers. The company had filed an application asking court to dismiss the main case alleging that it had no cause of action, whose hearing was slated to take place on November, 29th, 2019.

The attempt to dismiss the main case followed a loss of two applications seeking to stop Agilis Partners limited from further illegal and forceful eviction of victims off their land. The first application was thrown out earlier this year by the retiring Justice Frank Albert Rugadya Atwoki on grounds that the applicants “failed to produce evidence that the situation is dire warranting an injunction,” while the second application was dismissed by the court’s Assistant Registrar, Kintu Simon Zirintuusa on grounds that many of the occupants had vacated the contested land.

It is now 20 months since the impoverished families first dashed to court challenging their eviction which is superintended by Agilis partners limited, an agricultural development company owned by American twin brothers Philipp Prinz and Benjamin Prinz. Agilis Partners, which owns Joseph Initiative a beneficiary of UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) financial support and CFC based in the Netherlands, supplies food to United Nations’ World Food Program, among others.   

The 2300 victims under the auspices of Nyamalebe Landless Association accuse the company for undermining a free, prior and informed consent standard or principal.

We have suffered all round since our land was targeted by Agilis Partners limited and we shall take long to recover. “our case has suffered sabotage in court premises because we’re poor. On Monday, November 28th, we served Masindi high court about our new legal team that had come on board but while following up on the next day, we found court papers missing from the file and court official had no explanation” Said, Joseph Walekula, one of the community leaders.

Independent investigations by witnessradio.org‘s reveal that the investment of Agilis Partners limited has caused a permanent disability to a school going boy who was shot at by police during an eviction exercise at Kisalanda village, while 1200 pupils have dropped out of school after schools (private) were demolished, fourteen (14) community land defenders have since 2017 been under police harassment and intimidation with endless reporting on police bond after being arrested and charged with inciting violence among others. The victimized community has also lost churches, private hospitals, plantations, homes, subsistence piglets and cattle farms and small and medium businesses including retail shops among others.

 

Continue Reading

Corporate Accountability

Two EU member states, Norway named for aiding land eviction for carbon credit trading

Published

on

Green Resources’ pine plantation in Kachung. Credit: Kristen Lyons / The Oakland Institute.

By witnessradio.org Team

Two EU member states and Norway are in the spotlight for financing the eviction of native communities in Uganda to pave way for a Norwegian forestry and carbon credit company.

In the latest briefing paper authored by The Oakland Institute entitled “Evicted for Carbon Credits: Norway, Sweden, and Finland Displace Ugandan Farmers for Carbon Trading”.

The institute brings forward irrefutable evidence that the Norwegian forestry and carbon credit company, Green Resources, forcibly evicted villagers around their plantation in Kachung, Uganda.

“As thousands of Ugandan villagers struggle to survive after the loss of their land and natural resources to the plantation, the institutions and government agencies that enable Green Resources to operate must be held accountable for their wrongdoings and their complicity in this land grab.” The policy director at the institute Frédéric Mousseau says.

The report exposes the complicity of three prominent international certification bodies—the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), The United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA)—that are supposed to verify the company’s compliance with environmental and social standards. 

“Based on flawed audits, the accreditation Green Resources received from the certification agencies calls into question their commitment to social and environmental standards. In the name of fighting climate change, they claim that a large-scale plantation of non-native pine trees, which are to be cut and sold as timber, is preferable to subsistence activities of African farmers,” Reads the report in part.

The institute concludes that beyond the need for accountability that such a flawed project could run with the backing of three European governments, several international bodies, and specialized private auditing firms, raises serious questions around the true motives of these institutions as well as the purpose and the functioning of the whole carbon economy.

The establishment of the plantation on land previously used by subsistence farmers precipitated an on-going food security crisis that has not been addressed by the company, its financiers, nor the Ugandan government.

Green Resources has been the subject of two reports published by the Institute in 2014 and 2017. The exposés documented the plantation’s destructive impact on the local population as well as the misleading audit commissioned in 2017 by the Swedish Energy Agency—Green Resources only carbon credit buyer. Company documents released with the briefing paper—including letters threatening the local villagers, corroborate the Institute’s previous findings.

Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework

READ BY CATEGORY

Facebook

Trending