WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES
Are Court orders too weak to stop land evictions in Uganda?
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.
Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.
Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.
RE: COMPLAINT AGAINST UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT OF THE DPC KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT FOR AIDING AND ABETTING LAND GRABBING IN NYAMUTENDE KITWARA PARISH KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT AND CARRYING OUT ILLEGAL ARRESTS AND DETENTION OF INNOCENT RESIDENTS/ BIBANJA OWNERS FOR PROTESTING AGAINST THE ILLEGAL EVICTION FROM THEIR LAND.
We act for and behalf of the Lawful and bonafide occupants of Land described as LRV MAS 2 FOLIO 8 BLOCK 8 PLOT 22 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS RANCH 22).
Our Clients are residents of Nyamutende Village, Kitwara Parish in Kiryandongo District where they have lived for more than 30 years and sometime in 2017, they applied for a lease of the said Land to Kiryandongo District Land Board through the Directorate of Land Matters State House.
As they were still awaiting their Application to be processed, they were shocked to establish that the said land had been instead leased to and registered in the names of Isingoma Julius, Mwesige Simon, John Musokota William, Tumusiime Gerald, Wabwire Messener Gabriel, Ocema Richard and Wilson Shikhama, some of whom were not known to the Complainants. A copy of the Search is attached hereto
Our clients protested the above action and appealed to relevant offices, but were shocked to discover that the above persons had gone ahead and sold the same to a one Maseruka Robert.
Aggrieved by these actions, the Complainants appealed to the RDC who advised them to institute proceedings against the said persons, and assigned them a one Mbabazi Samuel to assist them to that effect. The said Mbabazi accordingly filed Civil Suit Noa 46 of 2019 against tne said registered proprietors at Masindi High Court challenging the illegal and fraudulent registration, sale and transfer of the subject land to Maseruka Robert.
While awaiting the progress of the case mentioned hereinabove, the Complainants were surprised to find that the said Mbabazi, instead of assisting them, he went into a consent settling the said suit on their behalf without their knowledge or consent. A copy of the Consent is attached hereto.
Among the terms of the said consent Judgment was that the residents would be compensated without specifying how much and would in return vacate the Land.
As if that was not enough, Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel are going ahead to execute the said Consent Judgment by forcefully evicting the occupants without compensation which has prompted the complainants to challenge the said Consent by applying for its review and setting aside at Masindi High Court which is coming up for hearing on the 29th March 2023. A copy of the Application is attached hereto.
Sensing the imminent threat of eviction, we also filed an application for interim stay of execution of the said consent to avoid rendering their application for review nugatory but unfortunately the same could not be heard on the date it was fixed for hearing (6th February 2023). A copy of the Application is attached hereto
On Thursday last week, three tractors being operated by 6 workers of a one Mbabazi Samuel [the very person who had been entrusted to represent our Clients to secure their Land through Civil Suit No.46 of 2019] encroached close to 50 acres of our Clients’ land and started ploughing it but our Client’s protested and chased them away.
We have however been shocked to receive information from our Clients that on Sunday at Mid night, 3 police patrols invaded the community in the night and arrested community members; Mulenje Jack, Steven Kagyenji, Mulekwa David, Ntambala Geoffrey, Tumukunde Isaac 15 years, Kanunu Innocent, Mukombozi Frank, Kuzara, Rwamunyankole Enock, and took them to Kiryandongo Police Station where they are currently detained.
We strongly protest the illegal arrests and detention of our Clients as this is a carefully orchestrated land grabbing scheme by Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel who are receiving support from the DPC Kiryandongo.
The purpose of this Letter therefore is to request your good office to investigate the misconduct, abuse of office and unprofessionalism of the said DPC Kiryandongo District and all his involvement in the land grabbing schemes on land formerly known as Ranch 22.
Looking forward to your urgent intervention,
C.C The Head Police Land Protection Unit Police Head Quarters Naguru
CC The RDC Kiryandongo District
CC The Chairman LCVKityadongo District
CC The Regional Police CommanderAlbertine Region
WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES
The Executive Director of Witness Radio Uganda talks about the role played by Witness Radio in protecting communities affected by large-scale agribusinesses in Kiryandongo district in an interview with the ILC.
WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES
Witness Radio Uganda wins the best CSO land rights defenders award at the National Land Forum Awards.
By Witness Radio Team
Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog, Witness Radio has been awarded the best CSO land rights defender award 2022 in the recently concluded National Land Forum Awards held last week at Mestil hotel in Kampala.
Witness Radio’s executive Director, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala attributed the award to the community land and environmental rights defenders who stand up against the intimidation and different forms of harassment from land grabbers (economically powerful and politically connected companies and individual investors).
“This is an award for defenders at a community level. They work in very deadly environments filled with harassment, torture, death threats, arrest, trumped-up charges, and kidnaps among others to advocate for community land and environment rights. This is happening at a spate where criminalization and silencing of community land rights defenders are at increase.” Jeff added.
The award has come at a time when hundreds of Ugandans in different parts of the country are accessing services provided by the organization ranging from legal service provisions, non-judicial mechanism engagements, empowerment to help them understand their rights, and using the same knowledge to use the same skills to push back against illegal and forced evictions
The chairman of the organizing committee of the second National Land Forum, Mr. Jimmy Ochom noted some progress on legislation in Uganda’s land Governance. He cited growing inequalities on land where the poor are more vulnerable.
During awards, the state minister for housing, Hon persis Namuganza revealed that the government approved the plan for 2018-2040 that maps the land use in the country.
According to the minister, the government had identified land for settlement, game reserves, wildlife, arable land for farming, and water bodies among others in the plan which she said was passed a few weeks ago.
The event was organized by Oxfam and partners and provided a platform for discussions by the different actors in the land sector on issues around land governance, including land rights, land administration, and land governance for improved collaboration, cooperation between the actors, and improved land service delivery for Ugandans under a theme “Taking stock of the National Land Policy in addressing Land inequality in addressing Land inequality in Uganda.”
Other categories of awards that were won by different organizations and individuals including Mr. Eddie Nsamba-Gayiiya for his contribution to research on land rights, Justice Centers Uganda for Promoting Access to Land Justice, and Mr. Henry Harrison Irumba for Championing Legal Reforms among others.
MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK1 week ago
Six cattlemen opposed to the Tilenga oil project-related forced land eviction have been granted bail but will remain in prison…
DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS3 days ago
Court dismisses criminal case against the eight land rights defenders in Kiryandongo district for want of prosecution.
MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK2 weeks ago
Persecution: The prosecutor’s office is turned into a tool to harass locals for opposing land grabs to give way to the oil project in Mid Western Uganda.
STATEMENTS2 weeks ago
Joint statement: AfDB should open spaces for civil society and communities, during the Annual Meetings and beyond.
NGO WORK4 days ago
Press statement: CSOs call on NEMA to disclose Bugoma forest restoration plan
NGO WORK2 days ago
EACOP Was Anchored On Disinformation, Persons Affected By Pipeline Declare