UGANDA, Lira | Real Muloodi News | The High Court in Lira City has ordered the Ugandan government to pay more than USh55b to 5,506 landlords from the Lango Sub-region affected by the creation of Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps during the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict.
Justice Alex Mackay Ajiji ruled that the Lango landlords had a cause of action against the government as their right to property and a clean environment were violated by the IDP camps, and it is the government that should be held liable.
The Lango landlords will each receive compensation of USh5m.
The landlords’ lawsuit against the government was filed in 2016 by Mr Jackson Oneka and 5,505 other landlords.
The landlords alleged that the government’s policy to create IDP camps during the peak of the LRA insurgency in Northern Uganda (between 2003 and 2007) led to the arbitrary and unlawful deprivation of their right to a clean and sustainable environment.
They claimed that their soil and crops were destroyed by the people living in the camps, for which they claimed compensation.
The landlords also claimed that the IDP camps left gaping holes in their land, which now require filling at a high cost.
They further argued that they lost relatives due to poverty caused by IDPs and that some have broken homes due to the inability to support their families.
The big population of IDPs destroyed their environment by polluting it with toxic chemicals, solid waste, plastic bags, deforestation, and overuse of land, among other ways.
The landlords planted various crops including orchards of pineapples, bananas, maize, potatoes, mangoes, avocadoes, and oranges, which were all eaten and destroyed.
The judge awarded each of the landlords USh3m as general damages on top of the USh5m compensation for the arbitrary and unlawful deprivation of the right to a clean and sustainable environment land that has been rendered infertile.
The affected districts in Lango Sub-region were Lira, Otuke, Apac, Oyam, Dokolo, and Kole.
The LRA insurgency lasted for at least two decades and created a humanitarian crisis in Northern Uganda.
The government’s policy to create IDP camps was aimed at protecting civilians from LRA attacks but led to the violation of human rights.
The creation of IDP camps was done throughout Northern Uganda, leading to the degradation of the environment and the destruction of property belonging to the landlords.
The ruling by the High Court in Lira City is a significant step towards holding the government accountable for the violation of human rights during the LRA conflict.
The compensation package for the landlords affected by the creation of IDP camps is a form of restorative justice and sends a message that the government must be held accountable for its actions.
The ruling also highlights the importance of protecting the environment and the rights of individuals, particularly those affected by conflicts and disasters.
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