At last, Kaweeri Coffee land eviction case is set for hearing

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By witnessradio.org Team

The long-awaited case in which bonafide occupants of Kaweeri Coffee Plantation land demand reinstatement and compensation for illegal and violent land eviction has been fixed for hearing on 11th March 2019 at High Court in Kampala.

In 2002, the Kaweeri Coffee land victims sued government of Uganda and Kaweeri Coffee Plantation limited. Kaweeri is a Ugandan coffee producer, wholly-owned by the Neumann Gruppe, a German coffee producer.

The new hearing date follows the April 10th 2013 suspension of the execution of the High Court ruling by the Court of Appeal.

On 28 March 2013 justice Choudry Singh had ruled that the plaintiffs were illegally evicted without being compensated adequately and ordered compensation of approximately €11 million to the evictees.  The judgement condemns the defendant’s behaviour and states that Kaweri officials were informed that the plaintiffs were to be evicted.

The judgement, however, acquitted both defendants.  The compensation was imposed on the Ugandan Investment Authority’s lawyers for allegedly misadvising the government to purchase the land.  The defendants as well as the lawyers appealed the verdict.  

On 10 April 2013, appellant court stayed the execution of the high court judgement in its entirety and directed re-trial of the case at the same court (High Court).

The plaintiffs allege that on 17 August 2001 Ugandan military officials violently evicted them from their land, mistreated them and burned down their houses, in order to clear the land and lease it to Kaweeri Coffee Plantation Limited to establish a coffee plantation.  The plaintiffs demanded an independent land survey to determine the land’s real ownership, the restitution of their land, or adequate compensation.

There has been noted delay and frustrations in the entire 17 years of seeking justice by the plaintiffs. However, they (plaintiffs) have alleged that the defendants on several occassions have deliberately hampered court proceedings to discourage them which allegation the defendants deny.

In February 2013, the judge set a date for the final hearing that neither Kaweri representatives nor the Attorney General attended.  The defendants sought recusal of the judge assigned to the case, Choudry Singh, and pointed out that impeachment proceedings (previously filed by the defendants’ lawyers) against the judge were pending.

The case will be tried by High Court Judge, Justice Henry Kaweesa.