[For immediate release]
25th April 2012
Uganda Land Alliance faces Government investigations over anti-land grabbing campaign
Kampala – The Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) has been summoned by the Uganda Minister for Internal Affairs Hillary Onek over the organization’s investigations of land grab cases that have left over 20,000 people displaced in various districts. A Global report by Oxfam released in 2011 cited Uganda as one of the key targets by multinational companies and foreign governments seeking arable lands in Africa to grow food for their nationals back home. Such moves are not only displacing local Ugandan citizens, but the
fact that some of the investors are using large chunks of land for non-food investments like the growing of Pine trees, and production of bio-fuels,
further threatens the already dire food security situation in the country. (See
Oxfam report- http://www.oxfam.org/grow/policy/land-and-power
Soon after Oxfam and ULA launched the Global report on land grabs on September
22nd 2011, Government was quick to refute contents of the report in a statement signed by the Minister for Water and Environment Hon. Maria Mutagamba (http://www.mediacentre.go.ug/details.php?catId=1&item=1431.).
The minister’s statement reads in part, “… The NFA implements the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003 in conformity with Executive Orders issued from time to by H.E the President…..” She adds, “For the record, it is important to state that all evictions
where they are necessary have always and continue to be always the responsibility of the NFA which may call upon the support of other organs of Government and never is the investor allowed to undertake evictions”.
We in ULA affirm that human rights abuses do often occur during evictions, and that it’s the responsibility of Government to address them in conformity with the Constitution, regional and international human rights standards to which Government of Uganda is signatory. It ought to be recalled that Government of Uganda actively participated in the Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure (noteworthy Section 11), which mandates it to consider the lives of its citizens as paramount and key while implementing investment.
ULA has made an effort to engage together with the leaders of some of the evicted communities to present their cases in search for justice, but sadly, even before independent investigations can be concluded, Government of Uganda is now summoning the Alliance in a move that could apparently compromise efforts to ensure that the vulnerable evictees receive justice.
“ULA obviously supports both local and foreign investment as a key factor for national development. However, given the cloud surrounding many of the land give-aways both at large and small scale, it’s high time Government appreciated that land grabbing is real, and requires concerted effort to address it,” says Esther Obaikol, ULA Executive Director. Thankfully, in Minister Mutagamba’s statement, she positively maintains that “Government welcomes this effort as part of the process by which NGOs as part of civil society help inform and enrich the participatory process of policy development in this country, and raise critical issues for debate”. Truthfully, it’s open and informed public debate of the question of land grabbing that ULA and other partners are calling for.
At this point, ULA rallies all our partners to support us as we continue our efforts to ensure that land deals in Uganda, are effected with due respect of the livelihood concerns of hapless citizens.
Background of ULA
The Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) is a membership consortium of over 60 national, regional and international civil society organizations and individuals, lobbying and advocating for fair land laws and policies that address the land rights of the poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and individuals in Uganda.
The Alliance was established in 1995 as an independent non-governmental legal entity,
registered as a company limited by guarantee. It envisages a Ugandan society
where there is equitable access and control over land, and where the poor
women, men and children are actively participating to eradicate poverty.
contact for interviews:
Uganda Land Alliance: Esther