The failure of Uganda’s Government to pass laws protecting people evicted from private and public land has come under the sharp eye of the high court. Following an application brought by a local human rights lawyer, the court has declared that failure to pass laws setting out proper procedures in the case of evictions violated the rights to life, dignity and property of those affected. Judge Musa Ssekaana ordered the government to report back within seven months on its progress towards such legislative guidelines. The court also said these guidelines should be developed via public consultation and participation and with reference to the relevant United Nations-recommended best practice. Drawing from decisions of the courts in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and SA, among others, as well as international law and other UN documents, the judge said it was the state’s duty not only to protect property but also to ensure that the social and economic rights of the people were given meaning.
We start the new year with a sensational turn to the high-profile dispute between government and controversial political figure Miguna Miguna: the Nairobi court in Kenya has ordered that six top government and police officials must together personally pay his legal costs in a case testing the validity of his arrest, torture, and deportation. Not just that, the six officials must also jointly pay the Kshs7m Miguna was awarded in damages by the court for the violation of his rights. Miguna was arrested a year ago under dramatic circumstances and twice deported to Canada within a few weeks, despite judicial orders that he be produced before the high court. Those court orders are still being ignored by government officials and Miguna was unable to attend argument in his case as he is still in Canada and prohibited from entering Kenya. Among other shocking allegations the court heard that state agents blew off the doors to Miguna’s house when they first arrested him, and that he was held for days in a toilet cubicle at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before he was injected with a tranquilizer to subdue him so that he could be deported for a second time.