The criminal trial of the eight land rights defenders failed to take off
12th, November, 2010; the hearing of a criminal case against 8 land defenders in Kiryandongo has been adjourned as the trial magistrate is on leave.
The eight include Fred Mwawula, Ramu Ndahimana, Samuel Kusiima, Martin Munyansia, Martin Haweka, Amos Wafula, Eliot Talemwa and George Rwakabisha.
They are accused of threatening violence, a charge which carries a punishment of four (4) years on conviction.
The prosecution alleges that on September 4th, 2020 the eight and others at large while at Kisalanda, threatened to harm a police officer and workers of Great Season SMC limited.
On October 16, 2020, the prosecution informed the court that investigations were done and the prosecutor’s chambers were ready to proceed with the trial.
Great Season SMC Limited, owned by a Sudanese businessman based in Dubai together is one of the multinational companies illegally evicting over 35000 people off the 10,000 Ha in Kiryandongo district for several agribusiness investments. Other Multinationals include; Agilis Partners Limited owned by US businessmen and backed by several foreign development agencies and “social impact” investors and Kiryandongo Sugar Limited owned by a Mauritius-based RAI family.
Before the illegal arrest and detention and prosecution of the 8 defenders, NGOs including Witness Radio – Uganda, GRAIN, and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa released a Kiryandongo report “landgrabs at gunpoint”, which exposed gross human rights violations and abuses committed by security agencies and 3 multinationals against communities. The motive for persecution is regarded as retaliation from district security agencies and multinational companies pinned in the report.
The defenders believe that the charges brought against them are linked to their human rights work of mobilizing and empowering communities to legally resist the forceful and violent evictions.
The hearing has now been fixed for the 15th-December 2020 at 10:00 am.