Saturday December 24 2016

Justice Bamugemereire to lead land probe team

To head probe. Catherine Bamugemereire. Photo

To head probe. Catherine Bamugemereire. Photo by Michael Kakumirizi 

By Stephen Kafeero & Benjamin Jumbe

Kampala. President Museveni has appointed Court of Appeal judge Catherine Bamugemereire to lead a new Commission of Inquiry into land matters in the country.
This will be the third inquiry that Ms Bamugemereire will be leading in less than five years. She led the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) tribunal in 2013 and recently investigated Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra)
While announcing the inquiry at the Media Centre in Kampala, Lands minister, Betty Amongi said the President’s decision was informed by the rampant land evictions, complaints relating to land grabbing, delayed transactions in land issues, unfair treatment of genuine land owners, tenants and other problems related to land acquisition, administration and management and titling.
On why Justice Bamugemereire was appointed again, Ms Amongi said she had done “a very good job” in her previous appointments “despite intimidation”.

The other six members on the commission will be Mr Robert Ssebunya, a senior presidential advisor on Buganda matters, Ms Mary Oduka-Ochan, Ms Joy Habasa, Dr Rose Nakayi, a Makerere University Law professor, Mr Fred Ruhindi, the former Attorney General and also former Nakawa MP and Mr George Bagonza Tinkamanyire, former Hoima District chairman.
The team will be assisted by Ms Olive Karazawe as the Secretary, Dr Douglas Douglas Singiza as assistant secretary in charge of research and lawyer Herbert Byenkya as lead counsel.
Ms Amongi said she had already forwarded to the Attorney General, the instrument of appointment from the President for gazetting. After gazetting, the commission will be sworn in and will commence its work. The inquiry which is premised on the previous Inspector General of Government recommendations on the rampant corruption in land transactions, is expected to begin early next year.
Justice Bamugemereire team will produce an an interim report in three months and a final report within six month from the date of their first hearing.
The commission is expected to make recommendations for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the land law, policies and process of land acquisition, land administration, management and land registration in Uganda and proposing necessary reforms.
It will also make “administrative and criminal sanctions against persons found culpable of wrongdoing in all the process”.

The minister called upon the public to volunteer information, documents that will help the commission in the successful execution of its mandate.
“The investigation and the commission of inquiry shall not affect the amendments, however we expect the commission of inquiry to give us a comprehensive recommendation on how to deal with the land acquisition act and the land amendment act as amended,” Ms Amongi said when asked if the commission’s work will have effects on the proposed amendments to the land law.

Terms of reference

1. Investigate and inquire into the law, process and procedure by which land is administered and registered in Uganda
2. Inquire into the role of the Uganda Land Commission in the management and administration of public land.
3. Review the effectiveness of the relevant bodies in the preservation of wetlands, forests and game reserves.
4. Inquire and solicit views on the role of traditional cultural and religious institutions who own large tracts of land
5. To assess the legal and policy framework on government land acquisition
6. To identify, investigate and inquire into the effectiveness of the dispute resolution mechanism available to persons involved in land disputes
7. To inquire into any other matter connected with or incidental to the matters aforesaid.