Is it impunity…? Uganda still adamant to give back land to local communities as ordered by the UN

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Kaweeri coffee plantations

By team

Its a 3rd anniversary of no action since the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural and Social Rights (CESCR) called on the government of Uganda with immediate effect to ensure that the rights of those forcibly evicted from Mubende District are returned and restored. The UN Committee of Experts addressed the case of the Kaweeri community in Mubende district in June, 2015.

In August 2001, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces stormed villages of Kitemba, Luwunga, Kijunga and Kiryamakobe in Mubende, forcibly evicted more than 4,000 people from the land that they, and their ancestors, took as their home, leaving 3 deaths, dozens injured and the destruction of houses and food crops.

The land was leased and being used by the Kaweeri Coffee Plantation Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, a company whose headquarters are based in Hamburg, German.

The Community sued the Government and the Company, Court awarded them compensation up to 11 million Euros, which has since never been paid 17 years down the road, neither have they gotten back their land.

For the UN recommendation a source told that an adhoc committee comprising of three (3) ministries including Foreign Affairs, Gender, Labour and Social Development and Justice and Constitutional Affairs was formed in 2017 to look into the implementation of this resolution, but no meeting has ever been convened

Sources have it that Kaweeri Coffee matter has been stagnant due to competing interests both political and economic from top government officials that have caused fear and anxiety among ministries’ focal persons in adhoc committee. “The latest we have is that Kaweeri matter was forwarded to ‘State House’ rendering the adhoc committee useless” the source said.

The expert committee recommended to Uganda to refrain from further forceful evictions of individuals and expropriating land, regardless of the context, and recalled that in cases where eviction or relocation is considered to be justified, it should be carried out in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of international human rights law.

Since the eviction, the investment has spattered terrible conditions to the community with no shelter, no adequate access to drinking water, no health care, increase in diseases and deaths, rising poverty rates, and skyrocketed malnutrition affecting children, pregnant women, mothers breastfeeding and the elderly.

Peter Baleke Kayiira, one of the leaders of the evicted community said, there’s never been meaningful engagement between government and affected communities since the issuance of recommendations.

“There’s only one incident in early 2017 where government through state minister for Kampala Bena Bugembe wanted to divide communities. She said compensation   would be made if the affected community withdraws a case in court and no follow up has ever been made” Kayiira revealed.

Neumann Kaffee Gruppe company has vehemently refused to take responsibility over human rights concerns emanating from land evictions saying, it does not own land and it (land) was leased to them with no squatters.