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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

Civil Society Petitions U.S, British Governments Over Kiryandongo Evictions



A look of anguish covers their faces, some break down in tears as they reminisce the events that led to their forceful eviction from a 13-square-mile chunk of land in Kiryandongo district.

The evictions that started on Christmas day in 2017 have left more than 30,000 families homeless after three plantation farmers – Kiryandongo Sugar Ltd, Agilis Partners, and Great Seasons Ltd took ownership of land that the government had originally allocated to Nyamalebe Farmers Association.

“We have petitioned several government ministries and departments including Parliament, we have been to courts and State House but no one seems to care about our plight,” John Isingoma, the chairman of Nyamutende village told a group of rights activists that visited the area on March 12.

The activists were drawn from Food Rights Alliance, International Accountability Project, GRAIN and Witness Radio which taking the lead in pursuing a litigation process against the government and the investors whom they accuse of rights violations.

The land in question is part of the 37.8 square miles of land, originally registered under the Bunyoro Ranching Scheme but allocated to landless people in 1997 under the ranches restructuring program that began in 1990.

It is part of what was formerly registered as Nyamakere and Kibeka Central Forest Reserves.

According to a June 16, 2014 letter by the then State Minister for Environment, Flavia Nabugere to the Prime Minister, the decision to allocate the forest reserves to the landless people was reached after an assessment that proved that human settlement was a better option than having ranches along the River Nile Basin.

This was the position of the relevant government Ministries, Kiryandongo district local government and backed by a cabinet and Parliamentary approval especially after the government found the same land suitable for the resettlement of the 2011 Bududa landslide victims.

Behind the scenes, the district leadership entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Kafu Sugar Ltd to take over the land for sugarcane growing.

The locals ran to the High Court in Masindi to the challenge the MOU and for an injunction to the activities of the sugarcane growers on the land.

The suit has remained in the court shelves while the Asian directors of Kafu Sugar Ltd incorporated another company in the names of Kiryandongo Sugar Ltd that went ahead with the sugarcane growing program.


Kiryandongo Sugar Ltd moved to take possession of the land after a November 16, 2017 letter by then Lands minister, Betty Amongi, addressed to the Kiryandongo district leadership, telling them that the Uganda Land Commission had allocated ranches numbers 23, 28, 29 and 30 to the sugarcane growers.

She reported that Museveni had approved the allocation while other private holders of the ranches had sold their stake to other investors.

Agilisi Partners from the Cayman Islands paid more than Shs 7.7 billion to take possession of 2600 hectares (four square miles) of land to cultivate simsim, soybean, and maize while another five square miles of land is held by a coffee-growing company, Great Seasons Ltd.

“In respect of the above, the resident district commissioner [RDC] and the district leadership are instructed to assist in all ways possible the owners of the specified ranches to amicably negotiate and settle any disputes with the legal tenants on the subject properties In accordance with the relevant land laws,” Amongi wrote.

Her letter was in protest of an earlier letter by the State Minister for Lands, Persis Namuganza that favoured the tenants against the interests of the investors.

“The issue of Kiryandongo ranches is before cabinet and His Excellency the President guided that a clear government program be drawn to come up with projects that will be established in these ranches, and also guided that all title [deeds] that were acquired on the same land be canceled, and those who purport to have bought [the land] be arrested because these are government ranches,” Namuganza’s November 7, 2017 letter to the Kiryandongo RDC partly reads.

Amongi told the Kiryandongo leaders to disregard Namuganza’s letter because it was “bound to cause legal suits” against the government.

While Namuganza relied on what transpired in the cabinet, Amongi acted upon Museveni’s July 17, 2017 letter in response to hers written on May 15, 2017, requesting for presidential approval to lease the Kiryandongo ranches to Kiryandongo Sugar Ltd.


What is so hurting for Joyce Bududu Tayebwa is that the evictions started a year after she had mobilized the locals to give Museveni a 100 percent score in the 2016 presidential elections.

“I feel ashamed that Museveni is doing this to us; it hurts me so much that for all this time, I have been working for NRM but Museveni found no difficulties in deploying his soldiers to inflict all sorts of atrocities on us,” a teary Badudu said.

Unlike others who were resettled on the land, Badudu was born here in 1975. Her mother, Stella Kamwoshe looked on as her daughter narrated their ordeal.

Kamwoshe now sleeps by the roadside under tarpaulin covers as she keeps watch over her herd of about 30 heads of cattle.

Attempts by the Kiryandongo district leaders to get her back on her land, and for her cattle to access her valley dam have not yielded any fruit.

“I blame Museveni for the scars on my body because it is him who sent the army to shoot at us, beat us, raze our homes and kill our animals,” Badudu said.


The CSOs led by Witness radio have in the meantime launched an online campaign urging the governments of the UK, Netherlands and the United States to freeze their support to the companies involved in the evictions over human rights violations.

The CSOs put the number of victims at more than 30,000 families that have suffered violations such as the use of excessive force, illegal arrest, and detention, harassment, intimidation, demolition of schools, worship centers and homes.

Source: The Witness

Defending Land And Environmental Rights

Breaking: Mwanga II Court grants bail to two defenders and a Project Affected Person (PAP).



By Witness Radio team

A Magistrate court sitting at Mwanga II road in Kampala has granted a cash bail to two community land rights defenders and a project-affected person after spending 24 and 21 days on remand respectively.

Defenders; Kabugo Michael and Kasozi Paul Ssengendo and a project-affected person, Charles Sserugo, were charged with conspiracy and obtaining money by pretense before being sent to Luzira prison.

Before being charged and remanded to prison, Kabugo and Kasozi, on several occasions, had been in and out of Old Kampala Police on orders of the Deputy Resident City Commissioner (D/RCC) in charge of Lubaga Division in Kampala Kampala.  RCC is a title given to the president’s representative at either district or division levels.

Both defenders have been mobilizing project affected community in Kawaala, Zone II, to resist forced evictions orchestrated by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and demand justice for all project-affected persons. The project is implemented with funding from the World Bank.

KCCA acquired a loan of over USD 175 from the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) in 2015 for the second Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP-2) project. Part of this money (USD 17.5 million, which is 63 billion Uganda shillings) is to construct the Lubigi Drainage Channel.

Before granting them bail, the court gave stringent conditions namely; each of the accused had to pay paid cash of two million Uganda Shillings (equivalent to 535.06 US Dollars); attend court whenever summoned; directed them not to leave the country; and keep off the prosecution’s investigations.

Section 309 of the Penal Code Act Cap. 120 states that the charge of conspiracy takes three (3) years imprisonment on conviction while the maximum sentence of obtaining money by pretense, according to Section 305 of the Penal Code Act Cap. 120, is a punishment of five years imprisonment on conviction.

His Worship, Byaruhanga Adam, relied on the submissions filed by the defense lawyers, which included presenting substantial sureties. Their sureties were conditioned with 50 Million Uganda Shillings (equivalent to 13,376.50 US Dollars) non-cash.

The Court will resume on the 4th of April 2023 at 10: 00 am East African standard time.

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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

The ruling of bail applications for the two community defenders and a project-affected person of Kawaala zone is happening today.



By Witness Radio team.

Mwanga II Magistrate Court in Mengo, in Kampala is hearing bail applications for the two community land rights defenders and a project-affected person (PAP) of Kawaala zone II, in Rubaga division who have been on remand for 14 and 11 days respectively, this morning.

Mwanga II Grade I one Court charged the two community defenders, Mr. Kabugo Micheal and Kasozi Paul Ssengendo, and a project-affected person Mr. Sserugo Charles with conspiracy and obtaining money by pretense and remanded them to Luzira Government prison.

Mr. Kasozi and Sserugo were arrested on Wednesday, 15th February 2023, whereas Mr. Kabugo was arrested on Saturday 18th, 2023 in a morning raid.

Last week, the hearing of the bail applications that had been scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 22nd of February 2023 failed to take off due to the absence of the trial magistrate. Court said he (the trial magistrate) was nursing a sick person.

On the same day, all three appeared the second time before the Grade one Magistrate because the Magistrate His worship Byaruhanga Adam with jurisdiction to hear their case was attending to his sick mother.

According to their lawyers, they sought permission from the grade one magistrate to enter an oral bail application on record which he permitted but denied granting them bail. His Worship Magezi Amon said his Court does not have jurisdiction to grant bail to the accused and requested them to wait for a bail ruling when the trial magistrate returns. 

Section 309 of the Penal Code Act Cap. 120 states that the charge of conspiracy takes three (3) years imprisonment on conviction while the maximum sentence of obtaining money by pretense, according to Section 305 of the Penal Code Act Cap. 120, is a punishment of five years imprisonment on conviction.

The two defenders have been facing reprisals for leading their community to push back a forced eviction by a World Bank Project implemented by KCCA.

All the three who are expected to appear in Court today, are residents of Kawaala Zone II, Lubaga Division, Kampala district, an area Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) intended to forcefully evict locals and construct a drainage channel, a project funded by the Word bank.

KCCA acquired a loan of over USD 175 from the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) in 2015 for the second Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP-2) project. However, part of the money (USD 17.5 million, which is 63 billion Uganda shillings) was meant for construct the Lubigi Drainage Channel.

His Worship Byaruhanga Adam is expected to return this morning, 1st March 2023, Wednesday to deliver the ruling of bail applications.


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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

A Court in Kiryandongo releases two community land rights defenders and eight farmers on bail.



By Witness Radio team

The Magistrate Court in Kiryandongo District has granted bail to the two (2) community land rights defenders and eight (8) farmers of Nyamutende village, Kibeka Parish, Kiryandongo sub-county in Kiryandongo District who were charged with three counts of threatening violence.

All the ten accused were released on a non-cash bail of 500,000 UGX equivalent to 135.4 USD, while the sureties were conditioned with 2,000,000 Million Uganda shillings (541.6 USD) non-cash. The defense lawyers presented 12 sureties.

The two community defenders and eight farmers had spent 13 days on remand at Kigumba prison. On 8th February 2023, the District Police Commander (DPC) Muhangi Edson invaded homes in the wee hours and violently arrested two land rights defenders and ten farmers plus two minors. The minors were later released from Kiryandongo police cells.

Among the persons granted bail include Mulekwa David and Mulenga Jackson (community land rights defenders). At the same time, local farmers released are Kanunu Innocent, Musabe Steven, Munyankole Enock, Lokong Gabriel, Ntambala Geoffrey, Kagenyi Steven, Mukombozi Frank, and Kuzara Frank.

On 09th/02/2023, the ten (10) were charged by the Magistrate Court in Kiryandongo with three counts of threatening violence, and all entered a plea of not guilty. Threatening violence takes a punishment of four years imprisonment upon conviction.

The prosecution alleges that the victims on 01/02/2023 threatened to injure, assault, or kill Wakoko Robert, Kilenda David, and Kato Francis. The trio is a laborer of Somdium Limited, which is forcefully evicting locals off their land without compensation, and resettlement.

The prosecution led two other witnesses totaling five namely the investigative officer of Kiryandongo police Businge Patrick, and Balute Isaac, the Somdiam Company Limited manager.

Before the bail was granted, the prosecution first claimed that they were not served with documents of the sureties despite the defendants’ lawyers having proof. This forced the defendant’s lawyers to ask for leave of court to settle the matter.

The prosecution further told the Court, in their reply submission that the sureties were not substantial, asking for the court not to grant them bail.

The defendant’s lawyers submitted their rejoinder which was relied on by the magistrate to give the accused bail stating that the sureties are substantial and the case is bailable.

The imprisonment of the community defenders and farmers came after their continued resistance to leave their land which accommodates over 1000 homesteads.

According to information gathered by Witness Radio Uganda, Somdiam Company Limited was incorporated in Uganda in 2011 and deals in imports of assorted food commodities among these are rice, sugar, vegetable cooking oil, biscuits, salt, tomato paste, powdered milk, pasta & spaghetti and are well established with professional operations is interested in growing sugar canes in Kiryandongo district.

The Court was adjourned to the 21st of March 2023 at 9:00 am East African Standard time.

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