Government Dragged To Court Over Failure to Protect The Rights of Marginalized Individuals.
By Julius Muhumuza
Civil society organizations working on trade, investment, human, and labor rights issues have dragged government to court demanding the protection of the Rights of Ugandans working in commercial investment schemes like factories, flower farms, and plantation-based investments.
Civil society organizations Southern and eastern Africa trade information and negotiations institute (Seatini) and Centre for food and adequate living rights (CEFROHT) say that prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, and also during the pandemic, a number of investment schemes have continued to violate the rights of some of the most marginalized individuals in the society especially women.
Reports by organizations like food Rights alliance, international accountability project, and others indicate that many evictions involving commercial investment schemes have left more than 30,000 families homeless through the use of excessive force, illegal arrest, detention, and intimidation among others.
While addressing the press in Kampala, Jane Nalunga Seatini executive director said that Investments such as Kiryandongo sugar ltd, agilis partners, Kafu Sugar ltd, have been reported to take ownership of the land of nyamalebe farmers association.
She adds that aside from Kindyandongo, many reports of evictions from districts of Kasanda, Mubende, Mityana, wakiso, Kayunga, and many others have been issued, but the government has not bee proactive in addressing this anomaly.
” Investment companies are dispossessing poor communities of their land to grow the same Cash crops like sugarcane, maize, coffee, as those of displaced communities, they then convert the initial self a sustaining and food secure communities into their laborers after depriving them of their means of livelihood and grabbing their most asset land”, Nalunga said.
Elizabeth Kemigisha from FIDA Uganda an organization that advocates for women rights noted that women working in Flower firms have been subjected to very poor working conditions, like lack of protective gears which exposes them to chemicals that burn and irritate their skin, very low wages, labor casualization which exposes them to job insecurity.
Lawyer David Kabanda and Executive Director of Centre for Food and adequate living rights (CEFROHT) told this website that in the case filed, they want the government to also compensate women whose contracts have been terminated as a result of COVID- 19 situations.
Kabanda added that Uganda’s legal framework is not protecting the rights of the people especially those working in factories, flower farms, and plantation-based investments.
Civil society fraternity demand government also to amend the investment code, employment act, and occupation health and safety act to protect people’s right to dignity and livelihood.
we are concerned that violations and the resultant effects have continued even during lockdown period, and could get worse as companies and government pay less attention to human Rights protection while seeking to lower their cost of production “, Kabanda said.
In amplifying voices of farmers, workers, women, youth, whose rights have been violated by operators of factories, flower farms, and plantation Based investments civil society calls upon the government of Uganda and investors to prioritize citizens’ right to dignity and livelihood over profits during this coronavirus pandemic.