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LAND ACTORS APPLAUD LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY’S REJECTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO 13 OF 2017

On Wednesday 5th September 2018, Civil society land actors welcomed the rejection by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament of the proposed changes to the Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 13/2017.

 

In a press statement read by Ms. Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa, the Executive Director LASPNET, the Land actors who convened at the Action Aid Uganda offices conveyed their appreciation to the Committee for the firm report on the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 13/2017 that sought to amend Article 26 of the Constitution. The Committee was hailed for pointing out that the Bill if passed into law would undermine the Constitutional safeguards provided for in Article 26 in protecting the land rights of Ugandans. “The Bill doesn’t introduce anything new warranting an amendment to the constitution. In case there is need to prescribe the matters contained in the Bill, these can be inserted in the Land Acquisition Act since they are more suited there ……” a statement in the report said.

The press statement raised concerns on the incoherence in the law noting that the Land Acquisition Act CaP 226 upon which the proposal for amendment was premised came into force in 1965 before the promulgation the 1995 Constitution and yet it has continued to be used without it being aligned with the aspiration of 1995 Constitution as provided for under Article 26. The land acquisition Act gives blanket terms of compensation and yet article 26 is more progressive in so far as it provides for adequate, and prompt compensation prior to government occupation.

The land actors also used the platform to launch a Consortium composed of members from LASPNET, PELUM and ActionAid Uganda that will undertake various engagements under the Voice funded project to “Campaign for pro-poor, effective and inclusive land reforms in Uganda”. The launch of the Consortium attracted a number of land actors among which included; Uganda Christian Lawyers Fraternity (UCLF), Muslim Center for Justice and Law (MCJL) Avocats Sans Frontiers (ASF), Landnet, Agricultural Productivity Enhancement Forum(APEF) and Community Justice & Anti-Corruption Forum (CJAF).

The Consortium recommended that Article 26 of the Constitution,1995  be upheld and that Parliament amends the Land Acquisition Act 1965 to align it with the spirit and aspirations of Article 26 of the Constitution;  creation of special courts to handle land disputes related to government compulsory acquisition so that  disputes  can be expeditiously disposed of; to deal with the question of speculators;  to address structural impediments that lead to delay of government projects and to revise the rates of valuation to suit market price. It further re- affirmed its commitment to continue sensitizing the public about the implications of such a Constitutional amendment or any action taken contrary to the recommendation of the committee report.

Members of the press sought clarity on a number of issues which were responded to by the Consortium representatives as follows:

On the question of whether the CSO’s were helping the people to protect their land rights and how strong they were on ground, Mr Onen Moses, the Land Rights Officer PELUM brought to the attention of the media the fact that they are sensitizing the masses including providing IEC materials and they will continue to mobilize them to fight against violation of their land rights.

Furthermore, the media inquired about how the CSO’s would want the government to undertake consultations on the mater. Mr. Fredrick Kawooya, the Policy and Campaign Manager, Action Aid Uganda in response proposed honest, genuine consultations that provided space for citizen participation nationwide including the vulnerable elderly, women, and person with disability.

The event attracted over twenty media houses including; NBS TV, Daily Monitor, KFM, Dembe, Bukedde TV, Top Radio, Top TV, Radio Sapientia, and Delta TV. Also present were Record TV, Mama FM, Star FM, Dream TV, Impact FM, Buddu FM, Radio Sanyu, Capital Radio, CBS FM, Pearl FM, Beat FM, Urban TV, New Vision, BBS TV and UBC TV.

After the press conference, land actors held a brief meeting to discuss the way forward following the withdrawal of Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2017 and reiterated the need to strengthen collaboration and to build synergize to ensure protection of land rights particularly for the most poor and vulnerable.

Below are some news links about the press conference:

http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Activists-Land-Amendment-Bill-Action-Aid-Laspnet/688334-4745012-144ihvj/index.html

https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1485246/csos-welcome-withdrawal-land

https://youtu.be/j7zMChbjGZY

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