Wednesday March 27 2013

IGP stops police from enforcing evictions



Police have been stopped from enforcing land evictions, and will instead ensure that President Museveni’s directive on halting evictions is effected, even if there is a court order.

Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), said in a statement that any officer who will not adhere to his instruction will be held responsible. “The police is under instructions to ensure that the directive is effected and the possession, occupation, and use of their lands by the bibanja holders/ tenants still on their land is protected,” Gen. Kayihura said yesterday in a statement.

Last month, President Museveni issued a directive halting all evictions until a committee led by State Minister of Lands Idah Nantaba cleared them. There have been several evictions of tenants despite the new land law which the President said would solve all land problems.

Mr Yusuf Nsibambi, an expert on land laws, yesterday said a committee appointed by the President, clearing court orders is irregular and unconstitutional. “Referring the court to the committee is irregular and unconstitutional. It means that the court is subordinate to a committee appointed by the President,” Mr Nsibambi said.

Mr Nsibambi, however, said there is no legal requirement of the police to get involved in enforcement of evictions, but it is done on normal understandings.

Judiciary spokesperson Erias Kisawuzi said the police should be mindful of the constitutional provisions that give court independence in exercising their duties. “No person or authority shall interfere with the courts or judicial officers in the exercise of their judicial functions,” Mr Kisawuzi said while quoting Article 128 of the Constitution.

The president Uganda Court Bailiff Association, Mr Bonny Lwamukaaga, said Gen. Kayihura’s directive means that the police have usurped the powers of the court and it will have dire consequences to land as a factor of production.