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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

Eight land rights defenders released on bail

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On 15 October 2020, land rights defenders Fred Mwawula, Ramu Ndahimana, Samuel Kusiima, Martin Munyansia, Martin Haweka, Amos Wafula, Eliot Talemwa and George Rwakabisha were granted bail by Kiryandongo Magistrate Court and released from Masindi Prison the following day, where they had been detained since 17 September. They are charged with “threatening violence” and their next hearing is scheduled for 12 November 2020 at Kiryandongo Magistrate Court.

Fred MwawulaRamu NdahimanaSamuel KusiimaMartin MunyansiaMartin HawekaAmos WafulaEliot TalemwaGeorge Rwakabisha and Pamela Mulongo are land rights defenders from Kiryandongo district in Uganda. They mobilise local communities to defend their land rights particularly when facing forced evictions reportedly perpetrated by private companies including Agilis Partners, Great Season Company Limited and Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, which have been implementing farming projects in the area.

On 15 September 2020, the eight land rights defenders were arrested by Kiryandongo police while reporting to the police station as part of their bail requirements in an ongoing case against them. After two days in detention in Kiryandongo police station, on 17 September, the eight defenders were charged with “threatening violence” and transferred to Masindi Prison. The human rights defenders believe that the charges brought against them are linked to their previous arrest, in early September.

On 4 September 2020, Fred Mwawula went to the office of Great Season Company Limited in Kiryandongo to ask for the return of his three goats, which the defender reported stolen by four employees of the company the day before. While attempting to speak with a representative of the company, he was arrested by police officers guarding the premises. His wife, who accompanied him, reported his arrest to local communities, after…

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Read the whole article at Frontline Defenders websitehttps://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/eight-land-rights-defenders-charged-and-detained-1#case-update-id-12612

Listen to the interview by Amandlahttps://amandla.ca/2020/10/19/thousands-of-farming-families-in-the-kiryandongo-region-of-uganda-face-violent-eviction-at-the-hands-of-agribusiness/

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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

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

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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.

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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.

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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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