Kampala, Uganda – At least 1243 people who were evicted from the land occupied by Kibale National Park in 1992 have dragged government to court seeking compensation or alternatively repossess their land.
The affected persons led by Alex Nduhuura have sued the Attorney General and Kabarole District Local Government in the High Court Civil in Kampala for evicting them from a piece of land measuring 766 Square Kilometers.
They contend that until around March and April in 1992, they were residents of Kibale Game Reserve Corridor and their homes were protected by the repealed Game Preservation and Control Act, 226 and later the Wild Life Statute of 1996.
They claim to have been settled on the land in 1959 by the then Ankole Kingdom, Toro Kingdom and Central government. Through their lawyers of Rwaganika, Baku and Company Advocates, the applicants say they had established means of livelihoods in their areas of settlement and residence as lawful and statutory settlers where they would earn income as farmers and traders among others.
They however, claim that government unlawfully evicted them on April 30th, 1992 and transformed their property into a National Park. They argue that since then, no immediate or alternative settlement or residence has been provided to them, adding that they have been left to struggle on their own.
They also contend that in 1993, 133 evictees sued government in the High Court Civil Division and in 2000 court directed that the government compensates them Shillings 12 million each for loss of property and damages caused to them. The Judgment was delivered by the late Justice Ignatius Mukanza, according to the court documents before court seen by URN.
The same judgment also directed that other evictees who had not come to court but were affected be compensated, which has reportedly not been done. The applicants now want court to order for their compensation for the damages caused to them.
They also want to declare that the government takeover of their settlement and residences and continued possession of the same as Kibale National Park is illegal and unlawful, which is amounts to deprivation of property. Court has summoned the Attorney General to file his defense within fifteen days before the case is allocated to a Judge for hearing.