HOPES: Rukungiri High Court sets 5th March 2024 to hear case of “illegal” wetland evictions in Ruhinda Sub County

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The Rukungiri High Court has set 5th March 2024 as the new date for hearing case between Rukungiri district water and environment officials, the GISO Ruhinda Sub County, and residents of Ruhinda Sub County.

The Rukungiri district Water and Environment officers and GISO were sued in November 2023 by a total of 85 residents from Parishes of Kicwamba, Rwamugoma, Burombe, and Ndere for wrongful land demarcations and property destruction that transpired during the operation to restore wetlands.

Eng. Deus Twekwase, GISO Ruhinda Sub County Mr. Bindeeba Moses, Mrs. Calorine Mbabazi, the senior environment officer for Rukungiri district are the defendants in this case.

However, today Thursday 11th January 2024, the Rukungiri High Court Resident Judge Justice Tom Chemutai deferred the issue until 5th March 2024 when it will be heard again.

Speaking to the two parties at this morning’s court session, Justice Chemutai suggested that, if feasible, they resolve their differences out of court; if not, the court will make a decision.

During an exclusive interview with our reporter after the court session, Arineitwe Peter, the managing partner of the legal Firm Arineitwe Peter and Advocates and counsel Odur Anthony who represented Ruhinda Residents said that they accuse law enforcement authorities from the water and environmental departments, led by Twekwase Deus and Calorine Mbabazi, of organizing what they describe as an illegal and brutal eviction.

Since the destroyed goods were not in a wetland, Arineitwe said, they want Ugx. 5 billion in compensation as well as the removal of demarcation stones from their lands.

He said that since everything done during the operations to restore wetlands in Ruhinda Sub County was unlawful, they, as the attorneys involved in the case, are certain that they would prevail.

Cue in………..LAWYER……………

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and police personnel supported the Rukungiri environmental law enforcement agents when they entered the wetlands of Ruhinda Sub County in November of last year.

Armed with firearms, hoes, sticks, and machetes (pangas), the officials began carrying out their order to drive out encroachers from the so-called degraded marsh, where the majority of people’s possessions had been destroyed.