Uganda—Over 30,000 people of Kiryandongo District have petitioned the government to speed up the compensation and relocation process.
Residents claim that the firms that have taken the land where they have lived for generations are being intimidated by police, military, and other security organizations.
Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, the minister of Information, Communications Technology, and National Guidance, told journalists earlier this week that he did not have figures on the number of persons impacted, but that the government will determine if they were eligible for compensation.
“Sometimes these individuals are occupying the land illegally, so we merely offer them some help,” Dr Baryomunsi said. “But if they are true landowners, I can tell them that they will be reimbursed.”
The residents claim they were expelled from a 9,500-acre plot of land where the corporations do agriculture.
Early this week, civil society organizations held a news conference in Kampala, claiming that the government’s persistent silence on the evictions in Kiryandongo has hampered the victims’ right to justice.
Most of the individuals they’ve talked to have accused their evictors of rape and other human rights crimes, according to Mr Francis Odokorach, Oxfam International’s country director.
“We are requesting that the government speed the compensation, mediation, and negotiation processes since many people are suffering despite the fact that they have lived in this country for generations and have been denied justice by the authorities,” Mr Odokorach told journalists.
The issue of mass evictions in Kiryandongo District began in 2017 when Kiryandongo Sugar Limited arrived, taking over around 2,400 hectares of land for sugar cane plantation and the construction of other facilities.
A few years later, another firm, Agilis Partners Limited, arrived and took over another 3,850 hectares of property, where it is constructing a grain company and a 1,165-acre coffee plantation.
When asked about the reports that his firm was evicting people, Mr. Suresh Kumar, one of Kiryandongo Sugar Ltd’s directors, told Daily Monitor on Wednesday that the compensation procedure is underway but that no evictions have taken place.