One of witnessradio.org lawyers addressing a group of land rights defenders and activists after they were released
By Witnessradio.org Team
09/08/2020: Kiryandongo – Uganda – the 8 eight land rights defenders and activists, who were arrested on September, 4th 2020 and detained at Kiryandongo district police, have been charged and released on police bond. However, Kiryandongo police has altered earlier charges from threatening violence and malicious damage to property to criminal trespass.
It’s still unclear as to why the charges were changed.
The illegal arrest and detention of the 8 defenders and activists took place few days after the release of the Kiryandongo report “landgrabs at gun point”, which exposed gross human rights violations and abuses committed by security agencies and 3 multinationals against communities. The motive for the illegal arrest and detention can be regarded as a retaliation from district security agencies and companies pinned in the report. They are facing a one year of imprisonment upon conviction.
The released defenders and activists are required to report back on police bond on September, 9th, 2020. They include, Mwawula Fred, Ndahimana Ramu, Kusiima Samuel, Martin Munyansia, Martin Haweka, Wafula Amos, and Talemwa Eliot and Pamela Mulongo, the only woman in the group.
The use of criminal charges against local communities is rampant in Uganda and for Kiryandongo land grab, the vice has tormented local community since 2017. Three multinational companies including Great Season SMC Limited, owned by a Sudanese businessman based in Dubai together with Agilis Partners Limited owned by US businessmen and backed by several foreign development agencies and “social impact” investors and Kiryandongo Sugar Limited owned by a Mauritius-based RAI family are grabbing over 10,000 Ha in Kiryandongo district for several agribusiness investments.