By George Busiinge
Principal Judge, Dr Yorokamu Bamwine, has directed Land Division of the high court in Kampala to quickly dispose of the refinery-affected people’s court case which has been dragging on for years, Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) revealed in a press statement on Tuesday.
Bamwine’s action, according to AFIEGO comes after the affected persons notified him of their planned demonstration at his chambers in a letter dated March 28, 2018 and signed by Innocent Tumwebaze, leader of the refinery-affected people.
“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, Bamwine said in a reply a day later, March 29, 2018.
Principal Judge in the spirit of fostering the case’s quick disposal re-allocated the file to another judge who should pursue the case in a swift and fast manner in order for the affected persons to get justice.
In a March 28, 2018 letter, the refinery-affected people had informed Bamwine that 20 refinery-affected women and 10 children representing 7,118 oil refinery-affected people would camp at his chambers until he committed that the High Court, which he heads, would hear the refinery-affected people’s court case without any further delays.
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. Government started acquiring the refinery-affected people’s land in June 2012.
“We expected the High Court to handle our case quickly to protect the rights of 7,118 oil refinery- affected people. These people included 3,514 women, 1, 334 children under five, 926 pupils and 408 vulnerable persons including the elderly, chronically ill and persons with disabilities.
Any justice-minded Ugandan should have handled our case quickly but the High Court disappointed us,” Innocent Tumwebaze, leader of the refinery-affected people said while explaining the frustration that had led them to make a decision to demonstrate.
He added: “We filed the case in 2014 when the compensation process had nearly just started [in June 2013]. We saw how our rights to prompt, fair and adequate compensation provided for under Article 26 of the Uganda Constitution were being violated.
We thought that if court quickly heard our case and made a decision stopping the under- compensation and unfair payment of low rates, the majority of our people would receive adequate and fair compensation,” Tumwebaze said.