Family members abet land grabbing – Justice Bamwine

ENTEBBE.

Despite the existence of formal land disputes resolution mechanisms in the country, property grabbing remains most pervasive because people involved in most disputes are family members, principle Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has said.

“Most property grabbing crimes remain unreported because of blood relations,” said judge Bamwine

Speaking at the dialogue on Natural Resources Governance and Exploring Instruments for Land Governance and Accountability, the judge called for a multi-pronged approach including provision of free legal services to those affected.

“There is also need for special care for vulnerable people when they appear in court because of the intimidating nature of the court atmosphere. Given chance, there would be a national legal aid scheme to specifically represent the vulnerable in court,” he said.

He observed that although judicial officers are required to visit people before making decisions in land cases, they lack funds to enable them comply with the mandatory requirement.

Justice Jane Kiggundu, the executive director of IGA, described land as a natural resource, saying: “Whether in rural or urban areas, land and access to land are issues that are closely intertwined with social and political stability, economic development, security and identity.

Land is also at the centre of many disputes and wrangles that come before our courts,” she said. She observed that the changing environment on management of land has shaped serious challenges like deforestation, desertification and widespread land degradation which threaten not only our future, but also that of generations to come.

“They have caused people to fight - for example in pastoral areas such as the Sahel and the Horn of Africa where desertification has led nomads to clash with sedentary farmers to starve when degraded land can no longer support a growing population and to move, in ever greater numbers, away from places that are no longer hospitable,” she added.

The International Governance Alliance (IGA) in partnership the Judicial Studies Institute (JSI) organised the workshop aimed at strengthening the capacity of local actors to improve compliance with international standards.

SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR

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