LASPNET HOLDS PRE- AGM CONFERENCE ON LAND JUSTICE AND ELECTS NEW BOARD AT ITS 7TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

02 November 2016 -
Written by Laspnet
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“During my short tenure in this Ministry, I have come to realize that land is the bedrock of our economy. The elite class prefers not to bank their money but to invest it in land, even proceeds from corruption end up invested in land and property”.

 

The above words formed part of the opening statement by Hon.Betty Amongi, the minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, who officially opened the LASPNET Pre-AGM Conference on Land Justice for the Poor and Vulnerable. The Conference was held on 28th October 2016 at Hotel Africana prior to the Annual General Meeting held on same date at 2:00 pm.

In her speech ,the Minister highlighted the key principles on which the land policy is anchored such as; equitable access by all citizens; justice in access to land irrespective of gender, age ,sex or disability; effective regulation of land use and development; transparency and accountability. She underscored the importance of Area Land Committees, District Land Boards and Surveyors in ensuring transparency in land governance so that the poor and vulnerable are not let to suffer at the hands of the wealthy.

In agreement with earlier remarks by the Board Chairperson of LASPNET, Mr. Samuel Nsubuga, calling on the Minister to add her voice to have the NLAP and bill passed in order to have the poor, vulnerable and economically marginalized access justice, Hon.Amongi said that the NLAP was anchored in the core vision for the implementation of the land policy and therefore needed to be fast tracked.

On the prosed amendment of the law on land acquisition, Hon.Amongi explained that the focus was on amending Article 26 of the Constitution to add a third clause to anchor the principle that when government is interested in land for  development purposes or public good, with all compensation processes  explored but some people for whatever reason object to the value stated by the Chief Government Valuer, then government will deposit the amount that the person has rejected to the Courts of law, a receipt of acknowledgment given and justice takes its course, as government proceeds with infrastructural developments.

During the plenary, participants called on the Minister to become an ambassador and support the advocacy for the NLAP. They noted the complications surrounding land justice, even for lawyers, which make it hard for the indigent to navigate hence losing out when they do not have legal representation; noted access to land justice being at the core of property ownership and economic development and thus a basis for peace and security.

It was also noted that much as the issues surrounding land are historical, government needed to address the emerging matters to help communities whose land was being grabbed through fraudulent means. LASPs also requested to be involved in the amendment process to ensure that the interests of the poor, vulnerable and marginalized were not left out.

 The Minister agreed to the importance and need to advocate for the NLAP adding that it is a constitutional matter to which she undertakes to discuss with the Minister for Constitutional Affairs and the Attorney General regarding its fast tracking since she believed it has an implication on the land sector since securing land rights promotes peace and security. She also confirmed that illegal titles would be cancelled. “I need to deliver a public good which is why I seek the support of everyone present on how best to deliver it”, said the Minister before she declared the meeting opened.


 

 

Ms.Rebecca Apio from LANDNET who presented a paper on the “proposed land amendment in the context of increasing poverty, vulnerability and marginalization”, noted that; lack of respect for customary land owners makes them vulnerable to land grabbing and that; the decentralized land administration structures lack the necessary capacity to execute their mandate and are in some instances not legally constituted. She recommended sensitization of communities on their land rights, making the amendment process a consultative one to reduce anxiety and proper adherence to laws during implementation.

While discussing the presentation, Dr.Rose Nakayi from Makerere University called on participants to question who these developments were for and not merely the cost; the over modification of the law on compensation while ignoring other non-physical benefits, the limited tools in place to allow the poor to negotiate and the stereotype that customary land is less, among other issues. She noted that it was difficult to talk about vulnerability and marginalization without discussing discrimination, an issue that was anchored in the 1995 Constitution and needed quick but efficient redress. She concluded by cautioning against the many legal reforms without due consideration of resettlement and rehabilitation of victims as well as the projectization of issues in the land sector while disregarding sustainability of such interventions.

As the Conference drew to a close, participants agreed that for the proposed amendments to be effective, they had to be all inclusive and not just in favour of the wealthy minority. They also expressed reservation on its relevance and thought strengthening the current legal framework like the land Act and regulation would be more appropriate .They welcomed the Minister’s commitment to support the call for enactment of the NLAP and agreed as a Network to participate in implementation of the land policy.

Election of new Board and handover of IIMS Mini Servers

On the same day, the Network also convened its 7th Annual General Meeting to discuss the annual progress report of the organization and to elect a new Board of Directors.

The progress report highlighted the increased participation of members in the Network’s events, new projects, the various capacity building opportunities for the members, lobbying and advocacy interventions, many of which had generated improved visibility for LASPNET, like the media campaign calling on government to fast track the enactment of the National Legal Aid Policy, key researches, legal rapid response during the 2016 national elections and the peer exchange visits to members, among others.

Members appreciated the outgoing Board and the Secretariat team for a steering the Network to a more accountable and visible entity and for implementing the recommendations of the previous AGM.

During the deliberations, Ms. Theodora Webale proposed the use of locally trained lawyers from within the membership during annual events like the Trial Advocacy training so as to reduce on the cost of external facilitators.

While discussing the issue of gender representation on the Board, most members agreed that representation should be based on skills and ability to serve regardless of one’s gender.

The AGM also approved as honorary members: Justice Remmy Kasule, the Chairperson of the Uganda Law Council, Ms. Theo Webale, the Access to Justice Advisor, USAID/SAFE and Mr. Musa Modoi, the Advisor Human Rights and Accountability at JLOS.


 

 

LASPs like Uganda Christian Lawyers’ Fraternity, War Child Canada, Foundation for Human Rights Initiative and Platform for Labour Action were awarded certificates of recognition for their outstanding contribution to the Network in areas like utilization and development of the IIMS as well as consistency in attendance, participation, timely feedback and support. Over 10 LASPS were also approved to receive mini servers while 20 of them were to receive backups to facilitate their utilization of the IIMS.

The AGM was crowned off with the democratic election of new Board members reflective of a more gender dynamic organ. Below is the list of new Board representatives:

SN.

NAME

POSITION

ORGANISATION REPRESENTED

1.

Samuel Herbert Nsubuga

Chairperson

ACTV

2.

Sandra Oryema

Vice Chairperson

PILAC

3.

Lydia Namuli Lubega

General Secretary

FIDA-Uganda

4.

Anthony Mutimba

Treasurer

HRAPF

5.

Suzanne Aisia Musooli

Central Region Rep.

UCLF

6.

Francis Odongyoo

Northern Region Rep.

HURIFO

7.

Fred Kaahwa

Western Region Rep.

AHURIO

8.

Joseph Mwase

Eastern Region Rep.

KCOBPA

9.

Paul Kavuma

Member on Merit

COLAID

Prior to the AGM, LASPNET was awarded and recognized for its contribution to the sector under the “Partnership and Networking category”, by the Justice, Law and Order Sector during their annual sector performance review held at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo on 27th October 2016. The Executive Director, Ms.Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa received the award on behalf of the Network.