Connect with us

DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

Kiryandongo land eviction saga takes new twist as District Leadership defy Museveni on resettling victims

Published

on

Victims of an unprecedented land fraud that has allegedly seen over 35,000 people evicted from government land in Kiryandongo will have to postpone their celebrations after President’s directive to have them resettled was defied by the district leadership.

Joseph Walekula, the leader of the group that claims to have been rendered homeless as a result of government giving out their land to two investment companies – Agilis, owned by an American agricultural investor and Kiryandongo Sugar, says he had led a group of over 100 people to Kampala to meet the State Minister for Lands Persis Namuganza on Tuesday 25.

“At the time of the meeting, she was scheduled to meet with the President, and we briefed her with all the documentary and pictorial envidance,” explained Walekula with loads of disappointment in his voice. Later on in the day, Walekura says ” The Minister called and informed us that the President had received our concerns and was greatly perturbed by the occurrences. The president thus ordered for an immediate attention to the matter to find solutions to the problem.”

On Wednesday 26th, an impromptu meeting was called to address the matter at the office of the Prime Minister.

The Meeting which was Chaired by General Moses Ali was among others attended by Lands Minister Beti Olive Namisango Kamya, State Minister for Lands, Persis Namuganza,Internal Affairs Minister General Jeje Odongo, some officials from the Ministry of Security, and others from the Ministry of Relief and disaster preparedness among others.

In the meeting, the victims were accorded audience to present their grievances, which were to shocking to the honourable Ministers. Convinced by the Victims about their plight, the meeting resolved that immediate attention should be given the matter and thus ordered among others;

That the Victims be resettled to any other place and be given all due facilitation in form of food and essential goods for their livelihood for one month as government seeks to find a permanent solution.

That further evictions be halted as fresh guidelines are introduced to guide future business following an appropriate mechanism that would guarantee a peaceful well laid resettlement plan.

It was also resolved that the group be given ample Security as they raised fears over their safety on return to Kiryandongo. The officials in attendance from the Security Ministry were tasked to see to it that this recommendation gets implemented.

The Ministry of Relief and Disaster Preparedness offered to accommodate the victims at Center Dip land which is under the refugee commission in Kiryandongo.

The group were given 200 bags of Rice, 200 bags of rice and 100 saucepans to feed on while in the camp that would be set up by the line Ministry. They were given some money to meet their transport costs and asked to return to Kiryandongo and wait for the items to be delivered to them at the agreed camping site.

On their return however, the group were dismayed to see that nothing was happening in line of the Kampala recommendations and upon inquiring from Minister Namuganza, they were told that there had been a change in the program and thus they needed to wait for any further communication.

They have since been blocked  From accessing the land which  had been offered to them to set  their camps pending a permanent solution from the Center Government.

“We have been informed by the Chairmen LC 1 that he has received orders from above to prevent us from accessing the land that we were supposed to occupy as per the directive from Kampala,” Explained Emmanuel Agarubanda, one of the victims.

The group accuses the district leadership of trying to sabotage their efforts of getting back to their normal life.

“The leaders at the district have deliberately told lies to the officials in Kampala because they too are implicated in these illegal evictions. They are the very people who are collaborating with the land grabbers in exchange for monetary gains,” explained Walekula.

The group also vowed to fight untiringly until they will get Justice even when it’s very risky fighting with the big men who have both wealth and influence in their armouries.

“They are accusing us for going to Kampala without involving them yet they have frustrated our efforts for a long time. We are collecting signatures and more evidence so we can go back to Kampala and prove our claim and also expose their lies,” said Walekula.

The RDC of Kiryandongo District, Peter Debele has however informed this website that the leaders of this group are scammers whose only aim is to defraud the government and the investors for money. He said that most of the people claiming to have been evicted are actually the same people that have been compensated undeservedly more than once.

“They are crooks who have been scheming to get money unscrupulously from investors using any possible means available available. We have documentary evidence to attest to the same and we shall not have their way just like that,” vowed the President’s envoy from Kiryandongo.

The RDC also faulted some political leaders for trying to create tension and fear in the area by instigating land rows in the district. He said that some of these people are intentionally mobilised by some politicians as a way of fighting others, adding that there have not been any such evictions in the district as alleged by the media in Kampala.

This comes after the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga coming out to decry the rampant evictions in the District on Tuesday 25th February, doubting reports by some officials at the District which claimed that the victims are people who had settled there after the investors had already taken up the land in question.

“If you say these people occupied the land without the due process, where was government when they were construction 14 schools, churches on the land,” asked the Speaker during a House session on Tuesday.

 

Source: Watchdog Uganda

DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

Breaking: Witness Radio and Partners to Launch Human Rights Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy Project Tomorrow.

Published

on

By Witness Radio Team.

Witness Radio, in collaboration with Dan Church Aid (DCA) and the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD), is set to launch the Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy for Human Rights in Uganda (MDA-HRU) project tomorrow, 22nd February 2024, at Kabalega Resort Hotel in Hoima District.

The project, funded by the European Union, aims to promote the protection and respect for human rights, and enable access to remedy where violations occur especially in the Mid-Western and Karamoja sub-regions where private sector actors are increasingly involved in land-based investments (LBIs) through improved documentation, and evidence-based advocacy.

The three-year project, which commenced in October 2023, focuses its activities in the Mid-Western sub-region, covering Bulisa, Hoima, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Kikuube, Kagadi, Kibale, and Mubende districts, and Karamoja sub-region, covering Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Abim, Kaabong, Kotido, and Karenga districts.

The project targets individuals and groups at high risk of human rights violations, including Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs). It also engages government duty bearers such as policymakers and implementers in relevant ministries and local governments, recognizing their crucial role in securing land and environmental rights. Additionally, the project involves officials from institutional duty bearers including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Equal Opportunities Commission, and courts, among others.

Representatives from the international community, faith leaders, and business actors are also included in the project’s scope, particularly those involved in land-based investments (LBIs) impacting the environment.

The project was initially launched in Moroto for the Karamoja region on the 19th of this month with the leadership of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD).

According to the project implementors,  the action is organized into four activity packages aimed at; enhancing the capacity and skills of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs) in monitoring, documentation, reporting (MDR), and protection, establishing and reinforcing reporting and documentation mechanisms for advocacy and demand for corporate and government accountability;  providing response and support to HRDs and marginalized communities; and lastly facilitating collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagements that link local and national issues to national and international frameworks and spaces.

Continue Reading

DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

Kiryandongo leadership agree to partner with Witness Radio Uganda to end rampant forced land evictions in the district.

Published

on

By Witness Radio team.

Kiryandongo district leaders have embraced Witness Radio’s collaboration with the Kiryandongo district aimed at ending the rampant violent and illegal land evictions that have significantly harmed the livelihoods of the local communities in the area.

The warm welcome was made at the dialogue organized by Witness Radio Uganda, Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog at the Kiryandongo district headquarters, intended to reflect on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

Speaking at the high-level dialogue, that was participated in by technical officers, policy implementers, religious leaders, leaders of project affected persons (PAPs), politicians, media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and development partners that support land and environment rights as well as the Land Based Investments (LBIs) Companies in the Kiryandongo district, the leaders led by the District Local Council 5 Chairperson, Ms. Edith Aliguma Adyeri appreciated the efforts taken by Witness Radio organization to organize the dialogue meeting aimed at bringing together stakeholders to safeguard community land and environmental rights in order address the escalating vice of land grabbing in the area.

During the dialogue, participants shared harrowing accounts of the impacts of land evictions and environmental degradation, including tragic deaths, families torn asunder, young girls forced into marriage, a surge in teenage pregnancies, limited access to education, and significant environmental damage which have profoundly affected the lives of the local population in Kiryandongo.

Participants attending the dialogue.

In recent years, Kiryandongo district has been embroiled in violent land evictions orchestrated to accommodate multinational large-scale agriculture plantations and wealthy individuals leaving the poor marginalized.

According to various reports, including findings from Witness Radio’s 2020 research Land Grabs at a Gun Point, the forceful land acquisitions in Kiryandongo have significantly impacted the livelihoods of local communities. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 individuals have been displaced from their land to make room for land-based investments in the Kiryandongo district. However, leaders in the district also revealed in the dialogue that women and children are affected most.

The Kiryandongo Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Akweteireho, emphasized that all offices within the Kiryandongo district are actively involved in addressing the prevalent land conflicts. He also extended a welcome to Witness Radio, acknowledging their collaborative efforts in tackling and resolving land and environmental issues in the district.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the land rights together with environmental rights have been violated in our district, but because we don’t know what our rights are, because we have not directly done what we could to safeguard our rights and now this is the time that Witness Radio has brought us together to safeguard our rights. I want to welcome you in Kiryandongo and be rest assured that we shall give you all the necessary support to help us manage these rampant cases,” Ms. Adyeri said in her remarks during the dialogue meeting.

The team leader at Witness Radio Uganda, Mr. Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala expressed gratitude to the participants for their active involvement in the dialogue and revealed that Witness Radio’s objective is to find a holistic solution to the escalating land disputes in Kiryandongo district serving as an example to other districts.

“We are here to assist Kiryandongo district in attaining peace and stability because it stands as a hotspot for land grabbers in Uganda. Mismanagement of land conflicts in Uganda could potentially lead to a significant internal conflict. Everywhere you turn, voices are lamenting the loss of their land and property. Kiryandongo, abundant with ranches, suffers from a lack of a structured framework, which amplifies these land conflicts. The influx of wealthy investors further complicates the situation,” Mr. Ssebaggala disclosed.

Within the dialogue, Mr. Ssebaggala emphasized the need for the Kiryandongo district council to pass a by-law aimed at curbing land evictions as an initial step in addressing the prevalent land injustices.

Continue Reading

DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

A breaking alert! A community land rights defender is kidnapped from his home.

Published

on

Kassanda, Uganda: a community land rights defender is missing after unidentified men cladding Uganda police uniform raided his home at around 10 PM local time, his wife has revealed.

Julius Ndagize is one of the community land rights defenders in Kassanda district advocating for the compensation of over 10,000 people illegally evicted from their land by the New Forest Company (NFC) in 2008 to plant monoculture trees.

In early 2020, evictees rose again to revive their demands to repossess their land following NFC’s failure to resettle and compensate them for the human rights violations and damages.

Evictees further narrate that ever since NFC grabbed their land, they have experienced increased deaths among children due to malnutrition and hired out land to bury their relatives who have died. All children who were attending school at the time of eviction have dropped out of school, while others have gotten married at a tender age. Furthermore, many families of the evictees have since broken up, and the list of long-standing impacts goes on.

“Our home was raided by unidentified men in police uniform at 10 PM local time. When they reached home, they banged on the house door and demanded that I should open the door. Upon opening, they forcefully entered the house without identifying themselves, with no explanation. Instead, they asked the whereabouts of my husband. They searched while throwing house properties in every direction until they got him and took him to an unknown direction. Said Mrs. Ndagize

She accused Uganda police of stealing Uganda Shillings 350,000, which is equivalent to about USD 90, which they found in their bedroom. She said the money belonged to a local women’s savings association, of which Mrs. Ndagize is the treasurer.

Since 2011 NFC has benefitted financing from international banks and private equity funds, including the European Investment Bank (EIB) with five million Euros (almost US 6 million dollars) to expand one of its plantations in Uganda; The Agri-Vie Agribusiness Fund, a private equity investment fund, had invested US 6.7 million dollars; the World Bank’s private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the UK bank HSBC with around US 10 million has caused unimaginable pain to hundreds of households and continued to suffer gross human rights abuses, mainly in Mubende district.

Lately, NFC has benefited from the carbon offset financing from several financiers, including the Dutch Development Bank (FMO).

Witness Radio has commissioned search for the lost person, but no success had been reached by the time of writing this article.

Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework

READ BY CATEGORY

Facebook

Newsletter

Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter



Trending

Subscribe to Witness Radio's newsletter