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



    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



    UPDF Kills 22 ADF Rebels



    Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have killed 22 Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels after a confrontation in the South West direction of Lusulube.

    According to a statement issued by the army spokesperson Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, the confrontation happened on Saturday March 25.

    “The UPDF Operation Force of two Mountain Battalion came into contact with the ADF terrorists in the South West Direction of Lusulube. During contact, 22 ADF terrorists were killed,”he said.

    During the confrontation, one UPDF soldier RA/234770 Yasir Yasin also lost his life.

    UPDF  recovered several items from the rebels including; four SMGs, 313 SMG rounds, 189PK rounds, five empty magazines, five Walkie Talkie Radios with their charger pots, eight solar panels and five solar batteries, 11 pieces of Quran, nine phones, two UPDF and eight FARDC uniform shirts, three FARDC backpacks and two ponchos.

    UPDF has been on the hunt for ADF rebels since 2021 when they made an attack in Kampala. UPDF says over 400 rebels have been killed since the inception of the operation.


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    Anti-Homosexuality Bill Is Stupid – Andrew Mwenda



    Veteran Journalist cum political analyst Andrew Mwenda has described the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 as stupid and redundant and vowed to petition court if the Bill is signed into law.

    Mwenda, while appearing on NTV on the spot, said the Anti-Homosexuality Bill seeks to regulate morality, but doubts if it is possible for the state to regulate morality.

    “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is not only redundant but also, in many ways, stupid. Firstly, it is a bill that seeks to regulate morality. I wonder if it is possible for the state to regulate morality,” he said.

    Mwenda argues that homosexuality is done in private and law enforcers cannot visit each and everyone’s bedroom to see who is practicing homosexuality.

    Mwenda says if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is signed into law, he will petition court again. Mwenda was one of the lead petitioners in a case that saw court nullify the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in 2014.

    The Bill was nullified on grounds that there was no parliamentary quorum at the time of passing the Bill. However, the Bill was brought back into Parliament by MP Asuman Basalirwa.

    The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 was passed by about 73% of the legislators, a number beyond the the required quorum.

    Some human rights activists have come out to castigated the Bill saying it denys homosexuals their rights.

    The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2023 awaits president Museveni’s signature to be passed into law. The Bill criminalises homosexuality and whoever is convicted risks being jailed for at least 20 years.


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    American Couple Accused Of Child Torture Granted Bail



    American nationals Mackeinze Leing Spencer and husband Nicholas Spencer who are accused of torturing their 10-year-old foster son have been granted a cash bail of shs100 million by Kampala High Court.

    The duo was arraigned before Kampala High Court Justice Isaac Muwata who granted each of them a Shs50 million cash bail on grounds that the duo needed better medication which they cannot get at Luzira prison. Justice Muwata also ordered their four sureties to pay Shs50 million (non-cash).

    Justice Muwata also requested the couple to handover their passports to court and barred them from traveling without court’s consent. The couple will report at the Deputy Registrar High Court International Crimes Division once in a month.

    The two American nationals had through their lawyer David Mpanga asked court to grant them bail so they seek better treatment to their ailing health conditions.

    Spencer and his wife are faced with four offences of aggravated torture, unlawful stay in Uganda, employment without a work permit, and trafficking in persons. If convicted, the couple is likely to face a death penalty.


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