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11 Nov 2016

Dr. Kizza Besigye, in Daily Monitor (Uganda)

Uganda: Opposition leader calls for a human rights-based approach to large-scale land acquisition for investment to safeguard locals interests

"Reject State-organised land grabbing through amending the Constitution"

A significant portion of my 2016 presidential campaign underscored the need for immediate actions to...large-scale land acquisitions, mainly, by foreign agribusiness investors, or the extraction industry—that are often preceded by grabbing of the land by government...Land grabbing and the attendant displacement of large numbers of people, often using very brutal means, is developing into a serious national security problem...

...Acholiland is recovering from decades of war. It is estimated that the northern region would need to attain economic growth rates of 11 per cent per year for 25 years (2040) to achieve parity with the rest of the country. In order to meaningfully address poverty in this part of the country, investors must be attracted and investments must be made in commercialising agriculture. However, the critical first step is to block any changes to the Constitution that will make it easier for the state to grab land. Any such changes will only serve to make already impoverished people more vulnerable and may lead to a class of people that are completely landless...

This is why I have consistently called for...[a] moratorium on State-based land grabbing in northern Uganda and across the country...[and the establishment of a] human rights based process to screen investors and prioritise those who promote transparency in process, and reject investment in projects —unless; a) the proposed projects can demonstrate free and prior informed consent by the family, community or clan impacted by the proposed development; b) the aforesaid companies must demonstrate through their business practice / philanthropic frameworks a commitment to the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights; the same due diligence would also be expected of their supply chains.


This is why I have consistently called for the following:
1. Citizens of Uganda, regardless of political party, tribe or religion must reject outright the proposed amendment to Article 26 of the 1995 Constitution.
2. Moratorium on State-based land grabbing in northern Uganda and across the country: