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Article

12 Jul 2021

Author:
Witness Radio

Uganda: Security guards of Great Seasons Ltd allegedly involved in arrest of land rights defenders amid opposition to evictions

'Fresh arrests of land rights defenders, villagers in a newly announced second COVID-19 lockdown in Uganda', 21 June 2021

Uganda, barely a week and few days into the second COVID-19 lockdown, multinationals have again taken the advantage of the situation and returned to the use of violence to dispossess poor communities of their lands and properties as four people including two land rights defenders have unlawfully been arrested by police guarding Great Seasons SMC Limited plantations... In the first lockdown, which was announced on March, 18th, 2020, and eased later in the year, Witness Radio – Uganda documented more than 120 cases of criminalization of land rights defenders. Illegal arrests were made and persecutions fuelled by multinationals and their agents... The four victims include land rights defenders; Baluma Sepriano, and Martin Munyansia, and the other two villagers identified as Byaruhanga Ronald aged 16, and Godfrey Munyansia aged 24, all residents of Jerusalem- Kisalanda, Kitwala sub-county in Kiryandongo district... Eyewitnesses told Witness Radio – Uganda that the operation that led to the unlawful arrest of the four people was led by ... a police officer heading the Police Protection Unit attached to Great Seasons SMC. Others in the operation were five (5) private security guards attached to the company that was armed with spears, bows, and arrows. Eyewitnesses further explained that the police and guards attacked the families from their gardens in Kisalanda, claiming that they had trespassed on company land... Great Season SMC is among the three multinational companies that have perpetrated violence and forcefully evicted natives off their land. The others are Kiryandongo sugar company and Agilis Partners limited... Since 2017 when the multinationals entered on this land, local communities have experienced unabated violence being perpetrated by companies’ agents (private security guards, and police officers attached to Kiryandongo district police) including, sexual and gender-based violence, illegal arrest and detention, torture, kidnap, demolition of houses, cutting down their food crops, and stealing their household properties among others...

Part of the following timelines

Uganda: Agribusiness companies embroiled in alleged illegal detentions, evictions, and rights abuses; incl. co. response

Threats & attacks on rights groups and land & environmental defenders in Uganda

Threats & attacks on rights groups and land & environmental defenders in Uganda