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    UWA, NFA On Spot For Not Compensating Batwa After Eviction…

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    Court has ruled that the government is responsible for the suffering of the Batwa after failing to compensate them for their land which was turned into central forest reserves and national parks in South western Uganda.

    According to the court, the Batwa were evicted from their areas and the government gazetted them into Echuya Central Forest Reserve, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

    In an unanimous judgement, the judges; Fredrick Egonda-Ntende, Elizabeth Musoke, Cheborion Barishaki, Muzamiru Kibeedi and Irene Mulyagonja ruled that the Batwa had interest in the suit in Kabale and Kisoro because it is their original title.

    “The Batwa have been left disadvantaged, owing to their eviction from the said land, and also due to the nonpayment to them of adequate compensation which would have facilitated their relocation to similar lands. This has rendered them landless and has severely affected not only their livelihoods but has destroyed their identity, dignity and self-worth as a people and as equal citizens with other Ugandans,” Justice Musoke ruled in a lead judgment.

    The Court ruled that marginalization of Batwa has arisen due to their eviction from the present day forest lands without payment of compensation and that they are now relegated to a lesser class of citizens, inherently landless and fated to be encroachers on other people’s land.

    Justice Musoke observed that the Batwa people presented evidence that is more compelling because it charts the history of Batwa and their connection to the respective lands better than Attorney General and Uganda Wildlife Authority – UWA and National Forestry Authority – NFA.

    “I reiterate that the Batwa are a group of individuals who have been marginalized on the basis of historical reasons following their eviction from the relevant lands without adequate compensation being paid to them. I find that no adequate compensation was paid to the Batwa despite the fact that some monies were paid in about 1991,” the judge observed.

    The court decision resulted from a petition in which a charitable organization and eleven individuals accused the government and her bodies of evicting, actions of excluding and dispossessing them from their ancestral forest lands which compromised their physical and cultural integrity and survival as indigenous people.

    Through their lawyer Owor Onyango of Onyango  and Company Advocates, the Batwa successfully argued that the government contravened both local and international laws in contravention of their rights to life, property, self-determination, freely dispose, wealth, natural resources and means of subsistence.

    The petition was filed by local body; United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda and eleven individuals who include Elias Habyarimana, Jovanis Nyiragasigwa, Christopher Kagundu, Night Isabela, Eric Tumuheirwe, Abel Kasumba, Abe Ruzuga, David Kakuru, Geoffrey Mahano, Alice Nyamihanda and Allen Musabyi.

    Counsel Onyango argued that the actions of government have since resulted in widespread displacement, exploitation, exclusion and marginalization of Batwa in the communities they resettled in in contravention of their right to equality without discrimination.

    They petitioned the Attorney General, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and National Forestry Authority (NFA). The Batwa are people with a population of about 6000 individuals, majority of whom live in the south western Uganda districts of Kanungu, Kisoro and Kabale. Court documents show that their land at current Echuya Forest, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park are situated was Batwa Ancestral land which was customarily owned by the Batwa for many years before the declaration of British Protectorate on Uganda.

    The petitioners told the Constitutional Court that since the 1930s to the present day, successive governments have dispossessed them from their ancestral lands on which relevant protected areas were established.

    They argued that the government acts include the creation of Mgahinga Gorilla Sanctuary, the creation of two crown forest reserves in Bwindi area which was subsequently amalgamated and converted to a Game Reserve at Echuya.

    Court heard that the Batwa were not consulted prior to the setting up of the protected areas on land they owned and that no compensation was paid to them after extinguishing their interests in the land issue.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    CRIME

    NO MORE MERCY: Shoot And Kill Them – Security Bosses Adopt Policy On Fighting Armed Robbers…

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    Some of the police bosses who attended the meeting today

    Security agencies have vowed to take a tougher shoot to kill policy against armed robbers.

    The shoot to kill policy was agreed upon today in a security meeting in Mukono Municipality between Uganda Police, Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), local leaders and the residents of Mukono Municipality.

    The order Follows a rise in armed robberies in the Kampala Metropolitan area.

    “We are going to kill them. I’m not used to these things of writing statements. We shall shoot them and then investigate where they got the gun from. You have to kill these thieves,” UPDF’s Lt. Col. Fred Mwesigye said.

    Edward Ochom, the police Director in Charge of Operations warned, “These robbers have their agents. They are here, I know it. We are discussing Security (and) they want to hear what we are saying. But, if you are their agent, take the message, their days are numbered. We are not going to sympathise with them anymore, enough must be enough.”

    Early this week, Flying Squad Unit and Mukono Police arrested two suspects, highly linked to the aggravated robbery of Spice Supermarket, located at ku Ssatu, in Namubiru ward, Mukono Central Division in Mukono Municipality on June 25th, 2022.

    Spice Supermarket in Mukono which was robbed at gun point

    “The two suspects were sighted on the eve of the robbery, while drinking at Cloud 9 bar, near the supermarket. They include Mugalu William, a 24-year-old resident, of Nasuuti cell, Ntawo ward, Mukono Central and Mbogo Sam, a 23-year-old, resident of Nasuuti cell, Ntawo ward, Mukono municipality. They were clearly identified by one of the witnesses who clearly saw them escaping from the scene,” police mouthpiece Fred Enanga said.

    He added, “We are now working towards the recovery of the gun and identifying other members of the gang, who appear to be an amateur group. Such groups are usually desperate, panicky more high risk and willing to use violence.

    “They shot a bullet through the computer, which injured Ssekandi Irene, through the stomach and exited from the back. We wish her quick recovery. A team of counsellors from CID Headquarters has been dispatched to offer counselling services to the victim.”

    Enanga warned that even though attacks on supermarkets have not been so regular, police is anticipating more retail crimes on supermarkets, mobile money points, retail shops and markets due to high levels of unemployment among the youth, use of drugs, change in criminal tactics, where robbers attack softer targets with lesser security, such as supermarkets and the opportunity of get-away.

    Yesterday, the Directorate of Crime Intelligence and Flying Squad Unit recovered a motor vehicle registration number UAD 728Y, a dark grey Toyota Corolla, which was parked at Ham Mukasa-Nasuti junction.

    Upon searching the boot of the vehicle, the scene of crime officers found a sub machine gun loaded with three live ammunition that were wrapped in a yellow polythene sack.

    “The team also found four sharp pangas, a sharp steel knife, two pairs of scissors, two pairs of pliers and two screw drivers. Other equipment that is used in breaking-in were also found in the car. Our teams also recovered items of different types of electronics, which are suspected to be stolen,” ASP Luke Owoyesigyire, the Deputy PRO Kampala Metropolitan Police said.

     

    By Grapevine Reporter

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    CRIME

    Pay Back Time? Minister Ecweru Slapped During Church Service; Man Arrested…

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    State Minister for Works Musa Ecweru

    Police in Amuria has arrested a one, Michael Okurut, 39 years who slapped the State Minister for Works Musa Ecweru who also is the area Member of Parliament (MP).

    Okurut slapped the Minister on Sunday, during the morning service at St.Michael Catholic Church in Wera parish, Wera sub-county in Amuria district for unknown reasons.

    According to the East Kyoga Police spokesperson, Oscar Gregg Ageca, Okurut came before the alter like other congregants, knelt down, got his blessings.

    The statement read further, “Okurut was however subdued by the minister’s bodyguards who arrested him and later handed him over to the area police, no harm was occasioned on the minister.”

    He added that a case has since been opened at Wera Police station where statements have been recorded and the suspect is detained as inquiries and investigation into the matter are expedited.

    Ecweru was recently involved in an incident in which, with the help of his bodyguards, he slapped three clergymen last year in May 2021 whom he accused of encroaching on his land located in Wera Town Council.

    Reports then indicated that the incident happened when the minister who was passing by saw the three planting cassava and trees on his land which they claimed belonged to St. John Church of Uganda in Wera.

    It is alleged that when he asked them why they were tilling his land, they started slapping them before they could even answer.

    The clergymen included Rev. Simon Peter Olato, the Parish Priest of Wera Church of Uganda and his two lay readers, Benjamin Otasono and Simon Peter Eriku of Aten and St. John churches respectively.

    However, the minister and the clergymen were reconciled.

     

    By: Kalamira Hope

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    CRIME

    UHRC Asks Parliament To Pass National Legal Aid Bill In Effort To Fight Torture And Help Victims…

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    Security officers arresting a suspected criminal

    The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), together with other organisations fighting against torture has asked parliament of Uganda with immediate effect to pass the National Legal Aid Bill.

    In a joint statement issued together with Coalition Against Torture in Uganda (CAT) and the African Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV), UHRC noted that the passing of the National Legal Aid Bill will guarantee the legal aid services for torture victims survivors.

    They further recommended that parliament should pass the witnesses protection Bill of 2014 as measures to fight torture in the country.

    “We however recognize that a lot needs to be done by all of us in our various capacities to eliminate torture from our country and indeed the world. We therefore call for concerted efforts of all of us to fight torture from our midst,” the statement reads.

    The human rights advocates further recommended that Uganda should ratify the Operational Protocol to the Convention against torture (OPCAT) 2006, to allow access to all places of detention in order to foster prevention of torture.

    The general public was also urged to report all acts of torture the relevant institutions and to ensure professional documentation of their experiences.

    “The fight against torture remains a collective effort and involves a change in attitude, behaviour and perception of both State, non-State actors and individuals.

    “Communities need to continually be empowered to know and fulfil their duties and responsibilities. We urge all stakeholders, on this commemoration event, to take stock of the journey that we have walked in the fight against torture as a country and reflect on our aspirations for the future,” the statement further added.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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