By witnessradio.org team
Faking of land titles, invading public and idle land, colluding with public officials, faking court orders, selling one piece of land to several buyers, are the key tricks land grabbers use to fleece the indigenous poor of their land, two reports by different researchers have established.
Both the witnessradio.org report and the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) report, reveal that the perpetrators are influential figures or private corporate entities who grab the land being used by the communities for subsistence farming to carryout commercial farming.
How much land has been grabbed?
No one really knows. A lot of reported deals are done secretly. In its inaugural report, witnessradio.org says that over 2 Million hectares of land have been grabbed in the greater Mubende region in the year 2017 alone, affecting more than 190,000 families.
Who’s doing the grabbing?
According to the two reports, economically-powerful and politically connected individuals and private corporate entities are involved in grabbing land from the natives.
“It is clear that a cartel of economically powerful and politically-connected individuals are assisted by public institutions like police, Uganda People Defense Forces, office of the Mubende District Resident Commissioner (RDC), Mubende District Land Board to grab people’s land,” witnessradio.org report reads in part.
“There is an evident pattern of highly placed individual actors precipitating land conflicts across the regions studied. The shared characteristic amongst such individuals is that they possess both political backing and sufficient funds to pursue their illicit agendas,” HURIPEC observed in its report.
The HURIPEC report that was nationwide, named individuals like Abdallah Kitatta, the NRM chairperson for Rubaga division and leader of Bodaboda 2010 who has close links with police and the state and Moses Karangwa, the NRM chairperson for Kayunga district who was accused of harassing, intimidating and evicting bonafide occupants before evicting them from hundreds of acres of land in Bbaale sub-county in Mubende district.
The same Moses Karangwa was highlighted in witnessradio.org report for grabbing 642.65 hectares of land from Charles Lwanga Masengere whom he kidnapped, tortured, resulting into his arrest on trumped-up charges of aggravated robbery.
Karangwa, is alleged to have burnt Masengere’s properties worth Shs 500M including cars, houses, among others.
Both reports highlighted that Karangwa extensively used the police to intimidate, harass and physically accosted bonafide occupants in his mission to force them to vacate the disputed land.
“It is quite clear that those involved in land-related criminality are not only highly-connected, public officials and significantly-placed non-state actors, their actions of large-scale evictions, land office forgery and various acts of bribery and coercion can only be curtailed through a vigorous process of prosecution,” HURIPEC observed in its report.
Collusion with public offices to commit human rights violations
“Public institutions like police, Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mubende District Land Board, Prosecutors and courts mandated to protect indigenous communities and their properties have been caught red-handed protecting workers of businessmen to commit gross human rights abuses ranging from gang-rape, torture, participating in illegal arrests and detentions, oversee the use of ungazatted detention centers to imprison community leaders ,organizing communities to oppose illegal land evictions and malicious prosecutions, among others,” witnessradio.org report found.
On its part, HURIPEC noted “an intricate involvement of the army and the police in the occurrence and exacerbation of land conflicts in all the studied regions of the country.”
In fact, its findings demonstrated that “armed security agents have been used as ready tools in the forceful eviction of persons from their land. As already mentioned, Moses Karangwa has been consistent in his use of the police to intimidate, assault and arrest bonafide occupants on land whose ownership is highly disputed in Kayunga.”
HURIPEC TO GOVERNMENT:
Ad-hoc and illegal institutions that have assumed a mandate over land governance such as the police, office of the president and state house should be immediately disbanded, or subordinated to the overall supervision of a revamped and reconstituted Uganda Land Commission. Only legitimate institutions fully-mandated by law to govern land matters should have control over land matters.
Government should adhere to the laws on compulsory acquisition vis-à-vis the prompt and prior payment of adequate compensation to persons who lose their interests in land due to legitimate exercise of the power of eminent domain
Private firms and investors must be urged and even compelled to adopt and adhere to minimum requirements of corporate responsibility with regard to their interactions with the victims of land problem, particularly evictions
Witnessradio.org TO GOVERNMENT:
Government should review the existing legal frameworks to protect land rights of indigenous communities and also empower the relevant institutions such as the land commission and the office of the Inspectorate of government to enhance the fight against corruption within the respective land divisions that are promoting forgeries of land titles
2,000 Karimojong flee to Teso in search for food
Kampala, Uganda | Several families in Napak district in the Karamoja sub-region have fled their homes into the Teso region to search for casual jobs. This follows the current food shortage which is hitting the region.
Joseph Lomonyang the Napak LC V chairperson says that over 2,000 people mainly from six sub-counties of Matany, Lopei, Lokopo, Lorengechora, Iriiri and Apeitolim have crossed to the neighbouring Teso districts of Amuria, Katakwi, Kapelebyong and Soroti looking for food.
According to Lomonyang, the number of people to flee the district is most likely to go higher given the current hunger situation.
“Last year, very many people planted crops but all the crops got destroyed by floods making our people vulnerable,” he said.
Elijah Lobucel, the Lokopo sub-county chairperson said everyday mothers and their children walk while those who can afford the costs pay for transport to Teso.
“What we are advising them is not to go to Kampala streets, but if its going to Teso for work to get food it is not bad since the Itesot are brothers and sisters under Ateker cluster,” he said.
Jimmy Tebenyang, the district councillor for Ngoleriet sub-county in Napak district said many children were getting emaciated as a result of lack of enough food.
“There are families where you find children yawning from morning to evening without eating anything and that is why we are calling the government to come to the rescue of people,” he said.
Robert Okitoi, the LC V chairperson Amuria confirmed the presence of Karamoja families in the district and urged the Itesot families to treat the Karimojong as their brothers and sisters.
He also appealed to other district leaders in the Teso region to receive the people of Karamoja with a good heart and share the little they have.
“This is the situation that requires to share, I call upon the people of Amuria and Teso at large that not all the Karimojong are bad people, those who are bad disturbing to raid people of Teso are few and so we should not victimise every one because the law will deal with those raiding but let’s support the Karimojong families,” he said.
Source: THE INDEPENDENT
A local businessman embroiled in land-grab scandals, is in a new case of illegal land eviction
By witnessradio.org Team
Hoima – Uganda – Hoima – Uganda – at least six villages in the Hoima district are on the verge of being grabbed from native communities that have derived their livelihood from the targeted land for decades. The land in contention accommodates more than 10,000 residents.
The affected families are from Kigomba, Kyamucumba, Kalyambuzi, Kyataruga, Kamugembe 1 and 2 villages in Kigorobya Sub County in Hoima district.
Residents accuse a prominent businessman Edgar Agaba of illegally acquiring a title measuring about 438 hectares on which the six villages sit.
The affected learned Agaba’s move when the leadership of Kamugembe Church of Uganda, which also seats on the land wanted to title its land.
According to one of the church leaders who preferred anonymity, the Bunyoro – Kitala diocese suggested that all churches in the dioceses should have titles in order to secure their land, however, we were surprised to see the land we have occupied for decades titled in someone else’s names.
“It’s the district land board that halted our work of registering our land on a condition that we cannot obtain another title on the same land,” a source added.
The source also revealed that all developments on the church land have been halted due to fear of eviction.
“We are in fear, stranded and we don’t even know what is next. That rich man 2 years back evicted our neighboring communities forcefully, and now he is back for us”, says a 68 year old Yedida Nyamwabura a resident of Kamugembe II
Nyamwabura who has been on her 6 acres since her birth calls for help from well-wishers to halt the move.
“We shall have to defend our land, we cannot allow him to evict us, though we are experiencing sleepless nights we know we shall succeed,” says Christopher Kirisi, a 60 years old resident from Kigomba village in an exclusive interview.
In an interview with the vice chairperson of Kamugembe II LC I, Mr. Tibananuka Johnson, he refers a move as a tactic by Mr. Agaba to evict the villages.
“Agaba claims his surveyors surveyed a different chunk of land, but how comes he is not aware, we imagine if the church had not started a move, it would have remained in silence,” added Mr. Tibananuka.
In our interview with Mr. Agaba, he denied the allegations
“I am not aware of what you are talking about, it seems my surveyors made a mistake” he added.
Mr Agaba has been implicated in several forceful and brutal land evictions in areas of hoima, In February 2019, Agaba with the help of the army and the police, forcefully evicted over 500 families off their 485 acres of land from residents of Kyabisagazi 1 and Kyabisagazi 2 villages in Kyabisagazi parish in Kigorobya Sub County. In the brutal eviction four toddlers were reported dead and others with severe injuries.
The toddlers were identified as Samuel Owuuchi, Stephen Ondizi, Rogers Jalwing and Samuel Awungi.
Biden lists US plans for Africa
US President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on February 5. Mr Biden sent a video message to the African Union leaders last Friday. PHOTO/AFP
The United States President, Mr Joe Biden, has spotlighted promoting democracy and human rights, peace and security, trade and investment as his administration’s priorities in Africa.
“… the United States stands ready now to be your partner, in solidarity, support, and mutual respect. We believe in the nations of Africa, in the
continent-wide spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation,” Mr Biden said in advance remarks to the 34th African Union (AU) summit released last Friday.
Leaders of the 55 AU countries met virtually last Saturday and “committed to strengthen the collective response to the crisis, marshalling resources for the benefit of all, and striving to ensure that no country is left behind,” the continental bloc said in a press statement.
Some of the thematic points that AU has outlined – responding to crisis and investing for the benefit of all – dovetail with Biden’s priority areas such as advancing prosperity for all nations and addressing conflicts costing lives in Africa.
“…my administration is committing to rebuilding our partnerships around the world and re-engaging with international institutions like the African Union. We must all work together to advance our shared vision of a better future,” added Mr Biden, who said Washington was rebounding to active international and multilateral engagement.
This would be a marked foreign policy departure from his predecessor Donald Trump whose administration pursued a more insular “America first” strategy that culminated in his withdrawal of the US from, among others, the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran nuclear deal and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Mr Biden took over office as America’s 46th President on January 20 and has signed several executive orders reversing multiple Trump policies, including returning Washington to the climate deal and WHO, as well as lifting the ban on Muslim countries.
Mr Biden has engaged the AU within the third week of his administration, contrasting the disposition to the continent of his predecessor whom the Washington Post quoted in January 2017 to have derogatively branded Haiti and African states as “shithole countries”.
Mr Trump never visited Africa during his four-year tenure and his pro-life administration’s defunding of abortion and other health programmes crippled many organisations on the continent.
In addition, six of the 13 countries on Mr Trump’s travel ban or restricted travel list — Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Eritrea, Tanzania and Libya — are from Africa.
Mr Biden lifted the ban, which he called a “moral blight”, on the day of his swearing-in and his administration has separately announced fresh funding for multiple women health and rights programmes, and promotion of rights of all, including gays, lesbians and transgender people.
In last Friday’s virtual remarks, Mr Biden promised to invest to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic and build capacity to detect, prevent, and respond to future health emergencies .
Original Source: Daily Monitor
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