Lawyer Eron Kiiza
By witnessradio.org Team
Mubende – Uganda: Eron Kiiza, the lead counsel, for the 28 jailed land rights defenders was on Thursday briefly detained at Kaweeri government Prison. The arrest stemmed from his lawful demand to have access to his imprisoned clients. The prisoners had been transferred from different prisons including Muyinayina and Katojo government prisons to Kaweeri Prison ahead of the criminal trial.
Before Kiiza’s detention, the accused’s’ battery of lawyers had beseeched Deborah Wanume, the deputy registrar of Mubende High Court to permit them to have access to their clients which was granted. However, issues turned ugly when the lawyers later on the afternoon visited the prison. They were turned away by prisons authorities and consequently advised to return another day. The lawyers who were taken aback by the by this stance which was in clear violation of a court order weren’t cowed. They made a second attempt to meet their clients and this time the prison officers came up with a different explanation; they claimed there is no fixed time for lawyers to see their clients and this did not go down well with Kiiza who was immediately arrested. Minutes later following protests from Kiiza’s fellow lawyers and other land rights defenders; the lawyer was not only released but also allowed to have an interface with the incarcerated land rights defenders.
Ever since Kiiza and his legal team got instructions to represent vulnerable communities he has received numerous threats. From within and without. He recently appeared before Police’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for questioning following a complaint by Mubende High court Judge his Lordship Justice Joseph Murangira. The judge was not pleased with Kiiza’s online campaign. Through various Facebook posts, Kizza asked Murangira to recuse himself from the case citing apparent bias and other ethical issues. The first threat, paradoxically, came from the president of Uganda Law Society, Simon Peter Kinobe, a person who was expected to defend him. Mr. Kinobe ordered the indefatigable Kiiza to pull down his contentious Facebook posts but Kiiza responded with a big no.
The 28 whose case has been cause listed for the criminal session have been on remand since the fall of 2018. This year’s criminal session at the High Court of Uganda at Mubende shall be presided by his Lordship Justice Anthony Oyuku Ojok, the Resident Judge of High Court of Uganda at Arua. The 28 land rights defenders were framed, arrested and charged with nine (9) counts including murder and aggravated robbery after they defied an illegal and forceful eviction of over 3000 inhabitants off their ancestral land measuring 322.5 hectares. The eviction masterminded by one Kaweesi George and his agents who among others some police officers and casual labourers.
The land forcefully taken was hosting some of those families that were evicted by Kaweeri Coffee Plantation limited in the early 2000s. The 600 families are part of over 2000 families, relocated to that land allegedly grabbed by Kaweesi as compensation for what they had lost to Kaweeri Coffee Plantation limited owned Emmanuel Kayiwa Bikko who has since passed on.
Like in many cases across the country including that of seven community land rights defenders that were sentenced to 34 years in prison in Mubende district, the use of the Penal Code Act in land-related matters is on the increase. The land-grabbing elements have resorted to the use of the Penal Code to charge land defenders because the law is lethal. It unleashes harsher prison sentences than any other
and also obtaining bail once charged under it is either legally hard or too expensive for the rural communities in Uganda These persecutions are manifesting majorly in districts that host minerals including sub-regions of Karamoja, Bunyoro and Buganda.
A self-claimed landlord who caused the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders on false charges was aligned before the court and charged with 28 counts.
By Witness Radio Team
A magistrate court at Mubende has charged a self-claimed landlord with 28 counts plus murder. Naava Milly Namutebi caused the arrest of six community land rights defenders, falsely accused them of murder, and got imprisoned for three years without trial.
Naava’s appearance before the court followed shortly after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) dropped murder charges against six community land rights defenders. These include; Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.
Naava was charged along with Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, Henry Kaaya, among others. They were not allowed to answer any charges as the court had no power to make legal decisions and judgments on charges read to them.
The prosecution alleges that Naava and others still at large, committed offenses in areas of Mubende and Kampala districts between 2006 and 2021.
From 2012 to date, Naava got help from the senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses while forcefully evicting over 4,000 people off their land.
The land being targeted measures 3.5 square miles covering villages including Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.
Naava and others accused were remanded to Kaweeri prison until 19th/July/2022.
Six community land rights defenders from Kawaala have turned up at police for interrogations but, failed to take off
By Witness Radio Team.
The six community land rights defenders from Kawaala zone II and the local leader that were summoned to appear at the Old Kampala Regional Police Headquarters have turned up, however, the interrogations did not take off due to the absence of the head of investigating team.
The six community defenders were required to report back to police for further investigations into alleged crimes that have not yet been officially disclosed to defenders’ lawyers. They were supposed to appear before the police investigation team today the 06th of July 2022 at 10:00 AM.
The defenders include; Kasozi Paul, Busobolwa Adam, Kabugo Micheal, Serugo Charles, Ssemanda David, Sserukwaya David, and the area vice-chairman Patrick Kato Lubwama.
While appearing before police for the first time last week on Wednesday 29th, the Deputy Assistant Inspector of Police (D/AIP) Domara Patrick who heads the investigations team casually said the defenders and the local leader are being investigated for obtaining money by pretense and forgery, which charges are not mentioned on police summons.
Since the first COVID outbreak in 2020, the victim defenders and others have been leading a pushback campaign to stop forced eviction by a multimillion dollars Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2) being implemented by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). The drainage channel construction is financed by the World Bank.
This project first impacted Kawaala Zone II around 2014, when a channel diversion was constructed. The current planned expansion will widen that channel and require forced evictions across an area at least 70 meters wide and 2.5 km long.
Witness Radio – Uganda has established that the Deputy Resident City Commissioner (RCC) in charge of Rubaga Division, Mr. Anderson Burora is among the complainants. Resident City Commissioner is a representative of the president in the Capital City at the division level.
Witness Radio – Uganda believes that police are being used to harass and intimidate defenders to back off the justice campaign for people negatively impacted by the drainage channel.
The defenders and the local council leader have been booked to report back to the police on Monday, the 11th of July 2022 at 9:00 AM local time.
A self-claimed landlord who masterminded the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders for three years has been arrested.
Naava being arrested by police.
By Witness Radio team.
A joint team of investigators from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from Kampala and the Mubende police arrested a self-claimed landlord who falsely accused six community land rights defenders of murder and led to a three years imprisonment without trial.
Naava Milly Namutebi was arrested at her farm in Kirwanyi in Mubende district with other alleged land dealers namely Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, and Henry Kaaya.
Naava’s arrest occurred a few days after the DPP dropped charges of murder against six community land rights defenders who had spent three years without trial. These include Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.
Since 2012, Naava with the help of senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende have orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses against over 4,000 people to evict them off their land. The land is measuring 3.5 square miles covering villages namely Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.
According to locals, Mubende police acting on Naava’s orders arbitrarily arrested and unlawfully detained dozens and dozens of land owners at different police stations in the district. Several victims allege they had to pay colossal sums of money to be released.
For many years, Mubende district has been one of the forced eviction hotspots where families are forced off their land with compensation or being offered settlement. Witness Radio’s one-year research report released in 2017 revealed that over 60% of the total grabbed land in the district was stollen by local investors.
Witness Radio – Uganda research indicates that Naava is involved in multiple land grabs with the help of government security apparatus. In 2017, residents namely Ruhobana Dombo, Samuel Ndekezi, and Chleopus Zariwa from the Butoloogo sub-county in Mubende district were arbitrarily arrested and detained on Naava’s orders by Mubende police.
The victims and other residents lawfully occupied and cultivated their land for decades but got shocked to hear that Naava was claiming ownership of their land.
The trio had gone to their gardens to plant maize on August 17, 2017, when Naava’s stick-wielding laborers attacked and severely beat them.
Naava is currently held at Mubende Central Police Station, with 28 charges including murder, attempted murder, forgery, and others preferred against her.
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