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U.K. Lawmaker calls on British Foreign Secretary to Intervene in Uganda’s Apaa/UN Crisis



Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Photo–Flickr.

A Ugandan Member of Parliament has called on the country’s dictator of 32 years to order his army to halt deadly illegal evictions of rural farmers, while also praising a call by a British lawmaker for action by the U.K.’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Britain provides Uganda with more than $100 million in annual foreign aid assistance.

Since July 11 more than 340 villagers — including 34 children– from a lush fertile area known as Apaa, in the northern part of Uganda, have been holed up in the compound of the field offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the city of Gulu.

They were granted temporary sanctuary after they fled violent attacks from Uganda’s military, the police, and armed Wildlife Authority agents. An estimated 800 homes have been torched, properties stolen, and crops destroyed in the concerted human rights abuses amounting to ethnic cleansing.

The ongoing attacks by the regime, in defiance of a 2012 High Court order staying all evictions, have already killed at least a dozen people. Scores are missing and many others have been injured.

The area in Apaa is about 25 square miles and the regime has been trying to oust 15,000 people, literally turning them homeless and destitute.

Land-grabbing by the political and military elite, who forcefully evict powerless people from their land and then lease them off to rich foreign individuals or corporations is a widespread if underreported crises in Africa. Critics have described the onslaught as the “new Scramble for Africa” where corrupt regimes in league with foreign interests, act like some of the African leaders who did not defend their sovereignty during the 19th century imperial conquest.

Uganda under Gen. Yoweri Museveni, is a prime example today.

According to an aide to Paul Williams, a U.K. MP, the lawmaker wrote to the British Foreign Secretary to inquire on “what representations he has made to the Government of Uganda on behalf of the thousands of people of Apaa village in Amuru/Adjumani District who have been, and are still being, forcibly evicted from their land by the Ugandan Army, Police and Wildlife Authority, who claim that they are inhabiting a game reserve?”

MP Williams also wanted to know whether the Foreign Secretary had “been in contact with the UN Human Rights Offices in Gulu, Northern Uganda, where 250 internally displaced people are currently camped, and will he make representations to the Ugandan Government on behalf of these displaced people?”

“I do appreciate Dr. Paul William so much for asking specific and meaningful questions to the minister. It will open the eyes of many people who may not be aware about what is happening in Uganda. I thank him for that,” Gilbert Olanya, a Ugandan MP whose constituency, Kilak South, includes the area of the violent land-grab, said.

Olanya said the country’s ruler, Museveni, “should stop pretending, he should order the soldiers to stop terrorizing the civilians, since he is aware fully of what is going on.”

“The soldiers should be withdrawn from Apaa and people go back to their homes,” he added.

Locals believe the Ugandan regime wants to lease the land to foreign commercial farmers and to a South African who wants to build hunting preserves. “Let the government stop the idea of giving people’s land to the South African investor called Bruce Martin,” Olanya said, referring to the South African allegedly trying to acquire the land.

Since last week the crises gained more global coverage and the Office of the outgoing High Commissioner finally broke its silence and commented amid emerging reports of fears of the cholera outbreak as a result of overflowing outside latrines, and shortage of food and medication.

The Geneva offices of the OHCHR in a statement said officials were working with representatives of the Apaa refugees and the regime to resolve the matter.

The refugees have said the fear being killed by the military should they return to Apaa.

The Member of Parliament, Olanya, described conditions on the U.N. compound: “The conditions at the UN premises is not good, sanitation not very OK, people are contributing food items like posho beans among others. Yesterday a team from Soroti brought some food and youth from Amuru town council. The major problem now is the firewood for cooking.”

Critics accuse the Museveni regime of arming civilians in adjoining areas inhabited by ethnic Madis and promoting violence between them and Acholis who live on the land in Apaa eyed by the regime. A Ugandan deputy prime minister, Gen. Moses Ali — who was once as senior official under Gen. Idi Amin– has taken the lead in promoting the conflict, according to local media reports.

“The problem in Apaa is the issue between Acholi and the government of Uganda not between Madi and Acholi as some people are saying,” Olanya added, calling for action against those behind the violence.

“Moses Ali and the team must be brought to book and those who killed Apaa community be arrested…”

Olanya said another disaster was looming since the people who fled to safety in the U.N.’s premises aren’t able to now tend to their farms.

“Since this is the time for cultivation, I guess these people shall suffer in the next season, since they are not cultivating. Government should be ready to provide relief assistant to them for a year, starting immediately when they go back home.”

Apaa Petition…



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



The Commandant,

Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.

Dear Sir/Madam;


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



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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