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Ugandan Threatens to take Government to the Permanent Courts of Arbitration (PCA) Over Land



Above; Acholi Prime Minister, Mr Ambrose Olaa

“We are advising the government to refrain from the current activities on land matters. If this message is ignored, we shall not hesitate to refer the case to the International Arbitration Courts of Justice (Permanent Courts of Arbitration) and we will line up lawyers to prosecute the case”

“This is the opportunist position of government over Acholi land. They have understood the vulnerability, disunity and weakness in leadership in Acholi and are taking advantage of that to grab customary land. Give yourself fifty years from now; there will be no more customary land to talk of”

GULU-UGANDA: There is no love between the government of Dictator General Yoweri Museveni and members of the Acholi community on the way government is handling land matters. This is especially on how government is appropriating customary land system which is widely practiced in the region and turning it to public land.

One such voice is a Ugandan living in the United Kingdom, Colonel Wilson Owiny-Omoya, who has threatened to take government to the Permanent Courts of Arbitration (PCA) if government does not stop its illegal activities on Acholi land.

PCA is an International organization located in The Hague in the Netherlands which provides arbitral tribunals to resolve disputes between member states, international organizations or private parties arising out of international agreements.

“We are advising the government to refrain from the current activities on land matters. If this message is ignored, we shall not hesitate to refer the case to the International Arbitration Courts of Justice (Permanent Courts of Arbitration) and we will line up lawyers to prosecute the case”, Colonel Omoya.

Colonel Omoya wrote this advice to the Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda on Monday, August 7, 2017.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Ker Kwaro Acholi, one of the cultural institutions in northern Uganda, Mr. Ambrose Olaa, has said that government is downgrading customary land tenure system instead of putting it at par with other tenure systems like leaseholds as enshrined in the constitution because it wants to grab customary land.

Mr. Olaa, says whenever an investor buys large swaths of customary land from individual land owners in Acholi, government gives leasehold title certificates instead of customary land titles certificates. This will turn such land from customary to public land, which will be vested in the hands of government after such lease expires.

“This is the opportunist position of government over Acholi land. They have understood the vulnerability, disunity and weakness in leadership in Acholi and are taking advantage of that to grab customary land. Give yourself fifty years from now; there will be no more customary land to talk of”, says Mr. Olaa.

On Tuesday, August 1, 2017, Mr. Olaa called Uganda’s minister of Lands, Ms. Betty Amongi’s, statement attributed to her in the media that the government will use force to survey a contested 10000 hectares piece of land in Amuru district for sugar cane project as “unfortunate, uncivil, reckless and a typical sign of unchartered arrogance”.

Government is set to go to Amuru district, accompanied by police and army personnel, to forcefully survey the contested land on Thursday, August 10, 2017 to give way for sugar cane plantation but is meeting resistance from both the local community and leaders in Acholi.

“We believe the issue should have not reached a level to threaten unleashing security forces. Such statements only create situations where violence would beget violence. We believe opportunities for dialogue were still open after all the land would still be there”, says Mr. Olaa.

On May 18, 2017, Mr. Olaa appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into Land matters in Uganda on behalf of Acholi Kingdom in which he stated that the Acholi viewed land as “a common good, a priceless commodity upon which every Acholi could access and use for the purpose of life’s sustenance”.

The Commission of Inquiry is headed by Lady Justice Catherine Bamugumereire and is mandated to travel throughout the country to investigate the rampant land conflicts and make recommendation to government how to resolve them.

“The great historical, philosophical understanding of Acholi societal construction places land as one of its central elements that are bounded together with people in a divine relationship. Land is therefore considered as sacred and its desecration has serious consequences”, warns Olaa.

Acholi sub-region encompasses about 28,500 square kilometers of land with a total population of over 1.8 million people. Most of the people lived in concentration camps (baptized as Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camp for the better part of President Yoweri Museveni’s administration.  They returned to their villages after cessation of hostilities between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group in 2007. Northern Uganda’s vast, rich, and fertile land is the envy of other nationals and foreigners alike.

All the above concerns came despite the fact that Acholi Paramount King; Rwot David Onen-Acana II met Uganda’s Prime Minister on April 10, 2017 and put matters which are intricate and deeply held by the people of Acholi which may “affect relationship with government”.

He lists appropriation of land in Acholi, security and respect of Acholi boundaries, the confused implementation of the land law and land policy, the issue of delayed cattle compensation, the problem of wildlife and the influx of South Sudanese refugees as some of the things which may affect relationship with government.



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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