UWA WINS A LANDMARK CASE AGAINST FORMER OCCUPANTS OF KIBALE PARK

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Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has won a Constitutional Petition in the case of Tukamuhebwa George and 2720 others in the Court of Appeal sitting as a Constitutional court.

The petitioners were residents of Mpokya sub-county in Kabarole District(now Kamwenge) who sued UWA and Attorney General (AG) for allegedly illegally and unlawfully evicting them from their land which was situate in a Game Reserve and had their homes and schools destroyed.

They alleged that as a result of the eviction, the petitioners were deprived of their right to education, livelihood and family. That these actions by UWA were illegal and contravened their rights under the 1995 Constitution. They thus petitioned the constitutional court for redress.

When the petition came up for hearing, the respondents (UWA and AG) raised preliminary objections on points of law which included the following:

  1. That the petition was incompetent because it does not raise a question for constitutional interpretation
  2. The matter had already been adjudicated upon (heard) by the High Court and it dismissed it on a point of law
  3. That UWA was wrongly sued because it was not in law in existence on or about the 31st of March 1992 when the alleged evictions were carried out since it was created by section 4 of the Uganda Wildlife Act 1996. That the provision of Uganda Wildlife Statute where all liabilities and assets of the Game Department and the Uganda National Parks Board of Trustees were vested in the Uganda Wildlife Authority was repealed during the revision of the 2000 Laws of Uganda. This therefore means that the issue of UWA inheriting those liabilities had been settled and the petitioners could not rely on that provision.

Court in its wisdom upheld all the three preliminary objections raised and dismissed the petition in favor of UWA and Government.

UWA was ably represented by the DDLCA Mr. Chemonges Sabilla Mongea and the AG was represented by Ms. Maureen Ijanga whereas the Petitioners were represented by Mr. Godfrey Lule.

The Coram constituted of the following Honorable Justices of the Court of Appeal:

-          Hon Mr. Justice Remmy Kasule

-          Hon Mr. Justice Eldad Mwangusya

-          Hon Mr. Justice Faith Mwondah

-          Hon Mr. Justice Kenneth Kakuru

-          Hon Mr. Justice Geofrey Kiryabwiire

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