For several decades, Uganda has been caught in an increasingly intense
land crisis. A mix of factors including the historical land inequities
bequeathed to the country by colonialism, the increasing global demand for
huge chunks of land for agricultural investment to meet the ever increasing
global food needs and the commodification of land generally has fuelled a
lot of land conflicts in Uganda. The Guaranteeing Livelihoods through Secure
Land Rights (GLLR) project implemented by the Human Rights and Peace
centre (HURIPEC) is driven by findings from immediately preceding
projects implemented by HURIPEC. The project is grounded on the fact
that land and indeed some key natural resources comprise a major source
of livelihood for many Ugandans. Hence, any threat to these sources of
livelihood of Ugandans can and should be interpreted as threats to their
right to life.
In the course of our research over the years, HURIPEC has come across
numerous incidents of human rights violations which have had far
reaching consequences for the livelihoods and therefore the right to life of
Ugandans. The studies reveal, for example, an upward trend of alienation
of Ugandans from land and other vital resources either by the state through
its agencies or by private individuals. There are several instances where the
state has allocated land to (especially foreign) investors in different parts
of the country.
Of particular concern is the proposed Land Acquisition Bill 2018 by
which the government propositions to acquire land from the citizens
without fulfilling the safeguards provided for under Article 26 of the
1995 Constitution of the republic of Uganda namely: prompt, prior, fair
and adequate compensation. This is not withstanding that the Bill seeks to
achieve the same objective as the foiled Constitutional (Amendment) Bill
No. 13/2017 which was vehemently rejected by Ugandans on account of
its unfairness. Related initiatives are also visible in areas such as northern
Uganda, where there are on-going attempts to transition land from its
traditional social significance to a mere commodity through the issuance of
a Certificate of Customary Ownership (CCO).
This is the premise upon which HURIPEC undertook this study on the
human rights implications of the Land Acquisition Bill 2018 (in case it
passes into law), as well as the impact of the CCO on the livelihoods and
right to life of landholders in Uganda.
The study sought to question the predominantly investor/businessleaning
preference of the government of Uganda vis-a-vis the livelihoods
of Ugandan landholders. The study, which took place in the Acholi and
Karamoja sub-region of Uganda, interrogated the nature and content of
the aforementioned land reform initiatives and examined their relevance,
feasibility and acceptability as a panacea to the increasing loss of land
from the majority into the hands of a few individuals. We spoke to key
stakeholders and community members on the repercussions of the land
reforms and their impact on the livelihood and security of Ugandans.
This report presents voices and concerns over the human rights violations
experienced during the implementation of these reforms.
It is my hope that the emerging human rights issues, as well as patterns and trends on
land holding in Uganda, highlighted herein, will help to elevate the attention of the
importance of land as a key asset for the majority of persons in Uganda and
to provide strategic guidance to policy makers on the same as the country
progresses to implement its plan on agro industrialization as elucidated
under the National Development Plan III.
Human Rights and Peace Centre
School of Law, Makerere University