By Witness radio team
The latest annual report by the Uganda Human Rights Commission has faulted various government agencies particularly National Forestry Authority of denying ethnic minority groups access to their land which is an abuse of a fundamental right to own land.
According to the 2015 report seen by Witness radio, government tops the
list of three top perpetrators.
“In terms of land use, 41% of the respondents said that the ethnic minority groups were denied access to their own land” the report notes. On who denied them access to land, the report findings which were based on the accounts by respondents of the research blamed it on different players ranging from government which was ranked at (47%), the surrounding community that stood at (26%) and fellow ethnic minority groups and the business community and other individuals at (7%).
A total of 81% of the research’s respondents said that the Ethic minority groups had no “titles” for their land.
According to a report, most of the minority and indigenous people were “evicted” from their “ancestral land with an aim of creating national parks”
In this process, the report notes that the principles of meaningful consultation, participation, “prior and free consent were never applied” which resulted into “persistent landless, extreme poverty conditions, isolation, exclusion and discrimination,” affecting their economic livelihoods and socio-cultural lifestyles.
The ethnic minority communities, the report notes therefore, that live as squatters on other people’s land, with none they call theirs to set up homesteads, graze their animals and grow crops.
For example, the Batwa in Kisoro and Kabake districts were evicted from Bwindi and Mgahinga forests which were gazetted as national game parks, while the Benet were evicted from land belonging to Mt. Elgon National Park.
The Kuku in Yumbe district were also evicted from Kei Forest Reserve by the National Forestry Authority but on a different ground which was that they had “encroached on it.”