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Privacy and Data protection bill: activists say no to NITA-U

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Activists under various Civil Society Organisations have unanimously rejected a ‘controversial’ proposal by government to give National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) powers to monitor the citizenry personal data under the new Privacy and Data Protection Bill, 2016.
Once passed the draft bill which is before Parliament, NITA-U would be charged with implementation of the law because the current legal framework gives it the mandate to monitor personal data.
NITA-U is also required to co-ordinate, promote and monitor information technology developments in Uganda within the context of national, social, and economic development, thus regulating collection and procession of personal data.
However, activists who spearheaded the push for the first ever data protection law in the country, used a one-day consultative conference organised by Unwanted Witness-Uganda, Article 19 and Friedrich Elbert Stiftung on Monday at Piato Restaurant in Kampala to reject any proposals to involve NITA-U in the collection and procession of the personal information.
Activists argue that NITA-U is “not independent” because its board is being appointed by the minister in charge of Information Communication Technology and National guidance and the minister is appointed by the “president.”
Secondly, “we are saying no to NITA-U because we cannot allow an internal marriage. NITA-U is established by a law and it cannot oversee the implementation of another law,” Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Chief Executive Officer, Unwanted Witness-Uganda, a civil organisation that deals with digital and online rights said.
Ssebaggala said, “we want this information to be under an independent commission headed by someone who has qualifications of a high court judge in order to oversee the collection of information, how much is this information, how is it supposed to be stored and how people’s information is going to be accessed.”
“What will happen to a critic of the government after when they have your personal information?” Ssebaggala wondered.
Because information is about people’s lives and future, Ssebaggala argued that it ought to be guided by someone who is “professional and independent.”
After harmonizing their views on the bill, civil society organisations would issue a report that incorporates all concerns raised in the consultative conference with a fortnight period before engaging the MPs to consult them on the best modalities of advancing their cause.
Besides local civil society organisations, the consultative conference was graced by privacy and data experts including Henry O. Maina (Article 19 Eastern Africa Director), Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion (Head Advocacy, Privacy International) who presented papers on International Standards for the freedom of expression and fair Information/Data protection practices respectively.
Other presenters were; Peter Magelah, the programme manager chapter 4, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Unwanted Witness-Uganda, Dr Kakungulu Mayambala, a law don at Makerere University, Gorret Amuriat, programme manager, Gender and ICT policy Advocacy, and Edrine Wanyama.

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PETITIONS

Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.

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The Commandant,

Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.

Dear Sir/Madam;

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

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WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES

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.

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WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES

Witness Radio Uganda wins the best CSO land rights defenders award at the National Land Forum Awards.

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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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