FES and SSA aimed to articulate community experiences on eviction, and show cause for land eviction guidelines. Participants included officers from Local Government, CSOs, Police, local leaders and communities affected by land evictions in the different districts.
On 19th and 21st March 2019, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) together with SSA: UHSNET organized consultation meetings on the need for land evictions in the districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Buliisa and Nwoya. The main aim was to further consult key stakeholders and receive recommendations and comments on the draft eviction guidelines. FES and SSA aimed to articulate community experiences on eviction, and show cause for land eviction guidelines. Participants included officers from Local Government, CSOs, Police, local leaders and communities affected by land evictions in the different districts.
The meetings commenced with welcome remarks from Ms Geraldine Kabamithe Senior Programme Manager- Land issues – FES, informing members of the nature of the meeting, the intention to dialogue on evictions and the importance of the participants in the process. This would then be followed by a presentation by Ms Dorothy Baziwe the Executive Director of Shelter and settlements Alternatives on the need for eviction guidelines and introducing the draft guidelines for participants to get a clearer understanding of the document. These presentations would ignite contributions, ideas, suggestions and experience sharing from the participants. As a result, both open and Focused Group discussions were carried out.
Different recommendations were agreed upon and include the following:
- Communication/ eviction notice should be in writing e.g. newspapers, oral, use of public notice boards, and radios. They should run at least 6 months in advance, in the local languages of the affected people.
- The guidelines should include the role of the RDC as it is not there.
- The group stressed the need for inclusion of counselling to go with notice, and timely adequate compensation to minimize the traumatic impact of the eviction on women, infants, children, the elderly, persons with disability and ill residents.
- In the event of compensation, the group noted the importance of inclusion of women, men, and children signing the compensation documents jointly, and husbands and wives operating joint accounts.
- The group in Hoima stressed the need for research on who owns the land, and what is on the land, to be followed by notification of people prior to evictions, police should inform and consult the affected parties. They highlighted the eviction procedures and ground rules issued by the Police land protection unit as a source of learning for due process.
- Notice should be well communicated including door to door communication, radio and church and worship place announcements should be used. They should run at least 6 months in advance, in the languages understood by the parties involved.
- Additional stakeholders the group felt have roles to play are: the Office of the President, churches and other places of worship, and local opinion leaders who have knowledge on ownership and history of the land transactions in the area.
- They identified the need to reduce political influence and orders from above to minimize negative impact of eviction, together with constant engagement with all parties involved in the process.
- During Compensation, women, men, and children should be availed equal chances to access relief services, adequate, timely and fair compensation and seeking spousal consent in all the steps taken.
- The group in Buliisa emphasized the importance of alternative dispute resolutions, sharing information with key stakeholders to allow them apply other mechanisms such as revisiting court order if possible.
- This team felt that communication should be written, newspapers, oral, use of public notice boards, and radios. Rather than the long six months the group said the communication should run for at least two weeks to three months in advance, in the local language of the affected people. The reason for short notice was to ensure the landowner is not frustrated in their development processes
- As a measure to minimize impacts of evictions, the group proposed the introduction of alternative livelihood options to support people avoid poverty as a result of their losses.
- Proposed the inclusion of other Local council levels; (LC1& LC3), cultural leaders and religious leaders as key stakeholders
- They proposed proper identification and documentation of affected persons prior to evictions to avoid compensation of wrong persons and conflict arising after the eviction. This will help in consultation and participation of affected people and communities.
- The group proposed sharing of the information with the neighbors of the communities and families to be affected by eviction to prevent fears and tension rising in the area.
- All stakeholders in the evictions should be protected. They noted that it seemed that security operatives are one sided during these processes which brings mistrust and tensions in the area resulting into violence
- It was proposed that after a lawful eviction has taken place, the evicted should not return to the area and that the owners should take steps to secure their boundaries and ensure there is no further interference on the land.
- Additional stakeholders in the evictions process were identified as Human Rights Organizations, Area Land Boards and Area Land Committees, neighbors, RDC, and the Courts of law.
- Participants insisted on the need for compensation and or resettlement plans in the event of evictions. They also mentioned the need for clear service delivery in new areas in terms of schools health facilities, water points and clear land demarcation in the resettlement areas.
- If there is compensation due, the stakeholders should ensure that payments are made through a bank, it should be made compulsory for couples to operate joint accounts.