London: Diaspora Ugandans Protest Deadly Lawless Land-grabs By Country's Dictator Gen. Museveni For "Investors"

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Ugandan Diaspora in U.K. protest the deadly lawless regime land-grabs for foreign investors in their homeland. 

[Comment: Open Letter]

Statement by Ugandans in the United Kingdom Demanding End to Land Grabs and Evictions.

28 May 2019, London

 

Ugandans in Britain held a demonstration at the Uganda High Commission in central London on 28 May 2019 and called for rights to land and against seizures. 

The protest followed high profile cases of evictions by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, including Uganda police and military, known as the UPDF (Uganda Peoples Defense Force) killings, shooting and arrests of rural people protesting land grabs.

The Ugandan community in the United Kingdom strongly objects to the latest decision taken by the government of Uganda to evict the people of Appa in Northern Uganda from their traditional land and is against land-grabbing across the country facilitated by corruption and collusion between public and private interests, including by members of security services, the army and the police.

We recognize government constitutional authority in terms of large-scale land acquisitions for development-based and infrastructure projects and for protection of wildlife reserves to serve the “public good”. Equally, we accept that even though the government has nice policies on paper, government and indigenous land are not exempt from the predatory means of land grabbing by use of state apparatus, to army and police deployment. 

We believe that as is the case with Appa evictions are often planned or carried our without procedural guarantees, judicial oversights, due process of state and international obligations and historical assessments of cultural attachment to the area, which predate any demarcation of the area as protected game reserves. We are of the views that evictions occur easily because of the malign conspiracy between the government and corrupt public officials to deprive people of their land and this explains why central and local government and international "investors" do not hesitate to deploy the police and the UPDF to kill, shoot, detain and use other method of violence against people if they resist and fight the land-grabbing. 

Recent mass evictions include:

In February 2008 Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the UPDF evicted more than 4,000 indigenous people from the Mt. Elgon area. The eviction went ahead in contravention of an October 2005 decision by the Uganda High Court in Mbale, which ruled that Benet people were the “historical and indigenous inhabitants” of the park and “should be allowed to carry out agricultural activities.”

In July 2009 120 homes in the Kisenyi area of Kampala were demolished and people made homeless after forged eviction notices bearing the name of the City Council was used to carry out the evictions. 

In Feb 2012, Napak District Council in the Karamoja region Protested UWA Eviction Plans under government pretext of management of urban and rural development projects such as dams, agriculture and farming.

In 2010 to date Uganda wildlife authority supported by the police and the UPDF began the process of violence forced eviction in Appa

March 2013 to date the court has stopped evictions at Isingiro District following eviction proceeding initiated by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). In March 2013, NEMA threatened 2000 families living outside the protected zone with evictions. 

We assess that the current evictions are expropriation of people’s rights over land and natural resources and is a form of deprivation and clear deprivation of people’s sovereignty. Such eviction runs counter to Millennium Development Goal and international law that explicitly recognizes the right to adequate housing and treats forced eviction to be a gross and systematic violation of human rights.

The United Nations’ international Covenant on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) which Uganda has ratified, is a key source of international human rights law and it explains that “....the state itself must refrain from forced evictions and ensure that the law is enforced against its agents or third parties who carry out forced evictions”. It states that “evictions should not result in individuals being rendered homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights” and prescribes procedural protective measures in circumstances where evictions are inevitable. 

In addition, in 1993, the UN Commission on Human Rights declared that “forced evictions are a gross violation of human rights” and, in 1998, the UN Sub Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights reaffirmed that: “ the practice of forced eviction constitute a gross violation of a broad range of human rights, in particular the rights to adequate housing, the rights to remain, the right to freedom of movement, the right to privacy, the right to property, the right to adequate standard of living, the right to security of the home, the right to security of person, the right to security of tenure and the right to equality of treatment”

Looking at these facts, we conclude that the main problem in the country is greed, corruption and unrivaled sense of entitlements by a select and well connected elites, in collaboration with foreign interests to concentrate ownership, control and exploitation of land resources, including forest, mining, water, and fishing and displacement of small holder farmers in ancestral and clans land to make them landless. 

We believe that in order to stop the evictions and recover people’s rights we must immediately implement land reform, restructure the ownership of public land, control and use of land resources for the interest of small farmers in clan and ancestral lands as they are the main stay of rural economies.  

Through this action, we call on all Ugandans and organizations and movements to occupy and reclaim our land and rights that have been seized by the government, corrupt public officials and private corporations and urge them to form groups of resistance to all forms of land grabbing. We invite religious, cultural, political leaders and international organizations, the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank, the African Union, the African Development Bank, the European Union, Britain and the United States to condemn and oppose all forms of serious violation of human rights carried out systematically by the government in land grabbing.

We demand that:

Central and Local government must stop all forms of land grabbing and return stolen land to the people.

We support Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s probe into land use in the country and urge government to implement genuine land reform in accordance to the constitution which recognizes that people are the sole owners of land. 

The police and the UPDF must retreat from land conflicts and must release the people who are detained in land grabbing cases.

The Parliament of Uganda and office of the Inspectorate General of Government and the British and South African authorities must investigate the activities of British, South Africans and other foreign nationals and "investors" named by the locals as perpetrators of large-scale displacements to give way for sugar canes plantation and private game reserves for animal hunting.

An end to blood sports and killing of animals for recreational activities and urge the Uganda Wildlife Authority to suspend issuing licenses to foreign and local tour companies and operators that engages in such activities. 

Instead of carrying out extrajudicial evictions and displacement, the Uganda Wildlife Authority must engage indigenous land owners in sustainable management and protection of wildlife.

The Ugandan authorities must ensure that where evictions are necessary and in line with the established law and in the “interests of public good” that national law and relevant international standards, including due process are followed and adequate compensations and resettlement are provided for.

The government must respect civil, cultural, economic, political and social and human rights as enshrined in international instruments.

The authorities must stop cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during evictions process.

The prosecution of public officials involved in corrupt activities, including violent forced evictions, assaults and killings.

The major international financial organizations and governments must review their bilateral and developmental support to the government of Uganda to ensure that they are not complicit in funding forced displacements and human rights violations. 

Cc

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

civilsociety@ohchr.org

Dunja Mijatović, the European Human Rights Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe

Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights

67075 Strasbourg Cedex
FRANCE

Dr. Solomon Ayele Dersso, Commissioner African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights 31 Bijilo Annex Layout, Kombo North District, Western Region P. Box 673, Banjul, The Gambia.

The Right Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary General, the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, Pall Mall

London SW1Y 5HX, United Kingdom.

The Right Hon Woody Johnson, United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, U.S. Embassy London, 33 Nine Elms Lane, London, SW11 7US

United Kingdom.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, King Charles Street; London, SW1

The Right Hon Rebbeca Kadaga, the Speaker of Parliament, Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.

Plot 16-18 Parliament Avenue

P.O BOX 7178, Kampala, Uganda.

The Right Hon Betty Ocan, the Leader of opposition in Uganda Parliament, Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.

Plot 16-18 Parliament Avenue

P.O BOX 7178, Kampala, Uganda.

Harriett Baldwin MP, Minister of State for Africa, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street; London, SW1

The Rt Hon Rory Stewart OBE MP, Secretary of State for International Development, 22 Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2EG.

Her Excellency, Nomatemba Tambo, South African High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5D

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