Expedite hearing of refinery-affected people's court case
Dr. Yorokamu Bamwine, the Principal Judge, has directed Land Division of the high court to quickly dispose of the refinery-affected people’s court case.
On March 28, 2018, about 30 women, children and other persons representing 7,118 oil refinery-affected people whose land was acquired by the government for Uganda's proposed oil refinery beginning in 2012 wrote to the Principal Judge and notified him of their intention to demonstrate at his chambers.
The refinery-affected people sought to express their displeasure with the judiciary over its inhumane, unjust and unfair delay in hearing the case they brought against the government in 2014.
“The denial of justice to the refinery-affected people by the High Court judges led to the perpetration of injustices and human rights abuses that no justice-minded judicial officer should subject any citizen,” said Mr. Innocent Tumwebaze, a leader of the refinery-affected people, said while explaining the frustration that had led them to make a decision to demonstrate. "Any justice-minded Ugandan should have handled our case quickly but the High Court disappointed us.”
The injustices, many of which are captured in the 2017 annual report of the Auditor General, include under-valuation of property, delayed compensation, irregular payment of additional fees as well as unapproved and outdated compensation rates of the financial year 2011/2012 that were not signed by the Hoima District Land Board (HDLB)
Through civil suit No. 343 that was filed in March 2014, the refinery-affected people sought court’s intervention to stop the violation of their rights to prompt, fair and adequate compensation that government was abusing when it began on the compensation process of the refinery-affected people. The government started acquiring the refinery-affected people’s land in June 2012.
“We filed the case in 2014 when the compensation process had nearly just started and have seen how our rights to prompt, fair and adequate compensation provided for under Article 26 of the Uganda Constitution were being violated,” said Tumwebaze.
He said the oil-refinery affected people thought that if court quickly heard their case and made a decision the majority of their people would receive adequate and fair compensation.
However, Dr. Bamwine said in a letter dated March 29, 2018, said he had allocated the case to another judge in the spirit of fostering its quick disposal re-allocated the file to another judge.
“Protesting at the court does not appear to me to be the most appropriate solution to the delay. In my view, fast-tracking its disposal would be a better option, said Dr. Bamwine.