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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

    Justice Minister Mao To Meet Security Council Over Drone Abductions And Kidnaps…

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    Minister Norbert Mao

    Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Nobert Mao revealed that he was appointed as Chairperson of cabinet committee on human rights.

    Mao made these remarks today while appearing at the 27th joint Government of Uganda-Development Access to Justice Annual review at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

    Speaking at the event, Mao revealed that he has been tasked with his committee to look into the recent rise in cases of alleged kidnaps and abductions of people, mostly those leaning on the political opposition.

    He said, “Myself and the Attorney General have been asked to meet the security council over the increased reports of abductions and kidnaps.”

    Mao vowed to reach out on all people with missing relatives or friends to give them more information about the disappearance of their people.

    “Once we have got the details, we shall be presenting them before the Security Council.”

    He added that the committee will institute a human rights desk where all complainants of missing persons will be reported for response.

    Mao adduced that once it comes to their attention, they have the capacity to trace that person using their cameras.

    “The issue shouldn’t be politicized because it is sensitive and touches people’s lives. If it’s true they are abductions, these may be conducted by disgruntled people within government with the view of tainting its good image.”

    Mao contended that they will ensure that they do better so that when they come back for the 28th time they give themselves marks.

    According to Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, this year’s review is being held against the background of a challenging year. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had probably challenging phenomenon, socially, economically and politically.

    He said, “Most specifically, the pandemic created unprecedented challenges and demands on access to justice community, but also tested the resilience and resolve of our coordination and collaboration model.

    “Our theme of the day is aligned with the national vision 2040 that seeks to consolidate the principles of governance, including constitutional democracy, protection of human rights, the rule of law, govt effectiveness and citizens participation in development processes.

    “President Eisenhower once said, peace and justice are two sides of the same coin. Let’s remember the need for both peace and justice, not just one of them.”

    Kiryowa further emphasized that all people with missing persons should report to them for a proper follow-up because they can’t act on allegations without facts and that he can’t follow up a case basing on rumours posted on social media.

    By Kalamira Hope

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    CRIME

    THE ACCIDENT IS FISHY: Lord Mayor Lukwago Orders Serious Investigations Into Why Subaru Driver Rammed Into His House…

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    Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago has ordered for serious investigations into an accident that occurred at his home in Wakaligga, Lubaga division.

    Lukwago has called on the police to investigate the motive behind the driver who rammed into his house, which caused alot of anxiety among members of his family in the night hours of 4th, December, 2022.

    His stand follows an accident by the driver of a Subaru which crushed into the gate and hit one of the pillars of the house.

    “A short while ago, an overhasty and reckless driver of Subaru car registration number UAJ 704K rammed through the main entrance to my house, the gate forcefully flung open and badly damaged it, and the over speeding car then rammed into the pillar at the entrance to the sitting room,” Lukwago said.

    He added that following the accident, everybody was left into disarray since they didn’t know what was happening.

    He adduced, “The driver was either high on something which had intoxicated him or he was on a different mission, that is the reason we want this matter to be investigated.”

    The Subaru driver however defended himself noting that the car lost control and could not brake.

    “I tried to park against the wall but it kept going. I didn’t intend to cause any harm,” he apologized.

    Lukwago was however not convinced with the explanation insisting that if the car was moving by gravitational force, the distance from the gate to the pillar where the car landed is very small.

    “That impact you see on the pole, suggests something ‘fishy’ could have been intended and so that is where we have a problem and that is why we want the matter to be investigated.”

    The regional traffic Officer of Kampala Metropolitan Police North, Bruce Onibye, said that investigations are ongoing but the vehicle seems to have been in poor mechanical condition.

     

    By Kalamira Hope

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    What Killed Simbamanyo Tycoon Kamya? How Top Lawyer Tried To Use Justice Byabakama’s Electoral Commission Deal To Save His Empire…

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    In one of the meetings where the agenda was to strategise on how to save the business empire of the late Peter Kamya, the proprietor of Simbamanyo Estate limited, one of his friends, who is also a seasoned commercial lawyer proposed a multibillion Electoral Commission deal which he was very sure would save the fallen tycoon’s empire.

    Multiple credible sources have revealed to the mighty Grapevine that this happened in 2018 when Equity bank had started threatening to auction Kamya’s properties which he used as security when securing a loan.

    The buildings were Ssimbamanyo House behind Central Police Station in Kampala city and Afrique Suites situated in Mutungo.

    Kamya, who is a brother-in-law to former deputy Prime Minister Muganwa Kajura allowed one of his senior lawyers to negotiate the deal which involved looking for a new home for the Electoral Commission.

    “The lawyer’s idea was for Kamya to rent the entire building to the Electoral Commission and the money collected as rent be used to service the loan which the bank was very comfortable with but out of the blue, when the deal was almost concluded, the old man changed his mind claiming that his friend was working with the bank to impoverish him and that’s how the deal flopped,” a source said.

    He added that the deal was waiting for the greenlight from president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who was a good friend to Kamya.

    The source added that even the Ministry of Gender was ready to shift to another building.

    Another source said that the Electoral Commission was giving Kamya a big deal compared to what he was receiving from the Ministry of Gender and within 3 to 4 years, the bank’s loan would be fully paid.

    The source said that Kamya changed his mind after getting another opinion from another shrewd young city lawyer who convinced him that the loan he got from Equity bank was not favourable and it can be challenged in Court.

    Sources said that when the bank learnt about Kamya’s plan to challenge them in court, they hastily auctioned both securities to controversial city businessman Sudhir Ruperelia’s Meera Investments Limited and Ronald Luwangula’s Luwaluwa Investments Limited, a move that frustrated Kamya’s entire plan to save his empire.

    He tried to save his empire through courts of law by filing an application seeking a temporary injuction stopping the selling of the said property but he lost the application with costs.

    He further petitioned president Museveni to save his empire arguing that it was illegally sold.

    Unfortunately, after making wide consultations, especially from the Attorney General and Bank of Uganda, the big man advised Kamya to challenge the sale of his properties in courts of law.

    He explained to him that he has no alternative to save him since he was advised that his properties were legally sold.

    Without losing hope, Kamya instructed his new lawyers led by Fred Muwema to institute a suit in the High Court Commercial Division against Crane Bank, Meera Investment Limited, Luwaluwa Investment, and lawyers of Katende Ssempebwa Company Advocates were also joined in the suit.

    The matter was allocated to Justice Stephen Mubiru, the head of the Division.

    Kamya hired Kihika Byenkya and Company Advocates to join his legal team which successfully secured an order for discovery against the respondents.

    Justice Mubiru ordered the respondents to allow the petitioner to inspect their email exchange, bank accounts and phone call logs which were made in the period when his properties were sold, an order which raised dust at the commercial court.

    Lawyers from Katende Ssempebwa Advocates petitioned Justice Rubby Opio Aweri, the Chief Inspector of Courts claiming that justice Mubiru was biased and he has to be investigated over the matter.

    He was ordered to refer the entire Ssimbamanyo file to justice Opio which Mubiru refused to do.

    Mubiru insisted that Justice Opio didn’t have powers to ask for the said file from him and guided that the matter has to proceed but lawyers challenged his action at the Court of Appeal.

    In October 2022, Justice Cheborion Barishaki of the Court of Appeal issued an order stopping Justice Mubiru from proceeding with the matter until three justices of the Court of Appeal determine the respondent’s grievances.

    Sources who have been close to Kamya revealed that Justice Cheborion’s ruling shocked Kamya and from that time, his life changed and it worsened last month and was rushed to Nairobi where he died on Friday morning.

    Sources said that other Simbamanyo Directors are set to continue with the legal fight to rescue their empire.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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