The proposed constitutional amendment bill which seeks to amend article 26 of the constitution to enable government compulsorily acquire land is still facing stiff opposition from all corners.
AFIEGO, a public policy research and advocacy non-governmental organization, is the latest group to mount opposition against the bill which MPs of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), resolved to withdraw from parliament before President Museveni during a heated caucus meeting last week.
During a discussion meeting on the bill with its partners from five districts in the Albertine Graben in Hoima district last month, the participants agreed that the amendment would have dire implications if passed into a law thus arguing parliament to reject it based on specific reasons.
AFIEGO and its partners contend that the land (Amendment) Bill 2017:
- Violates citizens’ right against property deprivation until payment of fair and adequate compensation as enshrined under article 26 (1) of the constitution
- Irrelevant because the same article 26 already empowers government and/or a local government to compulsorily acquire private property/land as long as that property is required for public use…
- The bill is in bad faith and is intended to shield government from her own obligation of paying citizens prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation in compulsory powers of acquisition
- If successful, the amendment will force citizens to accept unfair compensation or force them to undertake unaffordable litigation which will legalize injustices against vulnerable citizens
- It will disempower property/land owners from challenging government’s decisions on compulsory acquisitions because of high court costs among other factors when such decisions are unjust and unfair
- Stops affected land owners from challenging government’s decisions on acquisition and/or possession even where acquisition is not for public use which contravenes article 50 of the constitution
- Contravenes article 24 because it deprive citizens of their survival and this should be construed as torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment which article 24 provides against
- Against article 128 of the constitution as it seeks to empower the executive to involve courts in matters that are not before it
- Since 1965, government has failed to put in place regulations for assessment and payment of compensation as required by section 20 of the land acquisition act of 1965
- If enacted, the bill will render the Bamugemereire-led Land Commission of inquiry irrelevant despite the fact that billions of tax payers’ money is being spent on the commission
- It’s pre-mature because for years, government has been promising the country a constitutional review process where experts would collect views from citizens across the country based on those views, and government on required constitutional reforms for peace, harmony and development
- While the bill allows the government to take over private property even when there is a dispute over compensation, it does not allow the land owners the luxury to stop the acquisition until payment of compensation
- It will render all those disputing compensation landless as they pursue the legal process
- It will make government reluctant to perform her duties of ensuring that institutions and officers of government such as district land boards recorders at sub-counties, area land committees and others are financially empowered and skilled to deliver effective services to citizens
- It will enable government to continue defaulting on her obligation to implement and enforce the land act which provides for land tribunals at districts
- Government should leave the constitution and instead fight corruption where government institutions illegally issue land titles in forest reserves, parks and game reserves, wetlands and sell off government land because of corruption
- Doesn’t address the remedies for those who opt for relocation, but disagree with the terms of relocation. In effect, the bill reduces compensation to only cash
- Project-affected people will continue to suffer grave injustice of delayed compensation, unfair and inadequate compensation which in turn cause other injustices such as family breakdowns, collapsing of health and education service, food insecurity, water crises and others
- The bill indirectly and illegally affect many other provisions of the same constitution including article 237 that guarantees the powers of the citizens on land ownership
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
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 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.
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