The Judiciary has come out of slumber about the widespread violations of human rights suffered by bibanja holders, especially women and children, by proposing new practice directions on land evictions that will be observed by courts, bailiffs and all those those involved in evicting people from land.
The Chief Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe this week presented the Judiciary’s Proposed Practice Directions on Land Eviction during a public dialogue that was held at Imperial Royale Hotel in, Kampala.
The Chief Justice said that he instituted a team to come up with the Practice directions after the judges came under sustained criticism from the public about the way they were granting permission to court bailiffs to evict people from land they called theirs.
The Chief Justice’s move also came after some lawyers threatened to take the government to court for failing to institute practice directions, as required by law.
The judiciary’s spokesperson Solomon Muyita however told The Sunrise that the proposed regulations will not immediately come into force but will rather be presented to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to be presented to Cabinet before they are taken to Parliament to be debated and possibly adopted.
Key among the proposed guidelines is the requirement by courts to give the subject of eviction or Kibanja holder, a minimum of six months notice.
Also, the guidelines prevent any evictions to be carried out at night and also that all evictions must be publicised either in public barazas or broadcast in the media so that the intended evictees are made aware.
Other provisions state that; All evictions shall;
Be preceded by a court properly identifying those taking part in the eviction or demotion and presentation of the formal authorisations for the action.
Police and local authority shall be notified and police shall ensure law and order during evictions.
Evictions must be carried out in a manner that respects the dignity, right to life, property and security of those affected.
Measures shall be taken to ensure that effective protection to groups and vulnerable persons such as women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
There shall be no arbitrary deprivation of property or possessions as a result of evictions
Evictions shall include mechanisms, such as storage for 14 days, to protect property and possessions left behind from destruction.
Persons carrying out evictions shall respect the principles of necessity and proportionality prior to and during the use of force.
Evicted persons shall be given first priority to salvage and demolish their property and
All evictions shall take place between 8am and 6pm and must not be carried out on weekends, court vacation and public holidays.
On the side of courts, the Chief Justice wants his staff to issue eviction notices of not less than six months to the affected persons.
The chief justice also wants the bailiff to make a public announcement through public barazas, broadcast media about the specific date of eviction and that all eviction notices are required to contain the particulars of the land, relating to the eviction and reasons for the proposed eviction.
Justice Wangutusi David said that the six month shall help the person being evicted to search for where they shall be shifting from. “During this period it shall help the offenders to go to courts of appeal in case there is a chance of going there” he said
A number of people from the legal fraternity have welcomed the proposed practice directions on land evictions saying they are well overdue.
Isaac Ssemakadde, a Kampala lawyer who is representing the evicted person from the infamous Lusanja village in Wakiso, told The Sunrise that the judiciary had woken up to the suffering of the people.