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The Batwa Petition Before Uganda's Constitutional Court

Author: United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU)

On 8th February 2013, the Batwa of Uganda submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court of Uganda seeking recognition of their status as indigenous peoples under international law and redress for the historic marginalisation and continuous human rights violations they have experienced as a result of being dispossessed of their ancestral forest lands by the government.

Before their eviction, the Batwa had lived in the forest since immemorial times. The measures taken to remove the Batwa, to create ‘environmentally protected’ areas, and to limit access and use of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Echuya Central Forest Reserve, resulted in the violation of the Batwa’s property rights over their ancestral lands. While colonial protection of the forest started in the 1920s, most Batwa continued to live in the forest and to use its resources until the 1990s; when they were evicted, without consultation, adequate compensation or offer of alternative land.

FPP E-Newsletter December 2013 (PDF Version)

Dear Friends,

What are the prospects for securing the land rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, and women in the foreseeable future?

Significantly, the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, under Goal 1 to “End Poverty”, sets a target to “Increase by x% the share of women and men, communities, and businesses with secure rights to land, property, and other assets”.

FPP E-Newsletter July 2013 (PDF Version)

Dear Friends,

Mutual recognition, mutual respect and mutual benefit are among the desirable attributes of all human relationships. Indigenous peoples and other forest peoples also expect these qualities in their relationships with others – be they governments, private corporations, NGOs or other indigenous peoples’ organisations and communities. This issue of Forest Peoples Programme’s E-Newsletter reports on the state of various relationships between forest peoples and different institutions – as these are forged, tested or broken –in the course of assertions for upholding basic human rights, social justice and solidarity.

Bulletin d'information FPP Juillet 2013 (PDF Version)

Chers amis,

La reconnaissance mutuelle, le respect mutuel et les avantages réciproques figurent parmi les attributs souhaitables de toute relation humaine. Les peuples autochtones et les autres peuples des forêts s’attendent eux aussi à trouver ces qualités dans leurs relations avec des tiers, qu’il s’agisse de gouvernements, d’entreprises privées, d’ONG ou d’autres organisations et communautés de peuples autochtones. Cette édition du bulletin d’information du Forest Peoples Programme rend compte du statut de diverses relations entre les peuples des forêts et différentes institutions, au fur et à mesure de leur établissement, mise à l’épreuve ou rupture, suite à des revendications en faveur du respect des droits humains fondamentaux, de la justice sociale et de la solidarité.

Latest submission to the Convention on Biological Diversity

FPP and Natural Justice organised a joint submission to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in response to a request for contributions from Parties and stakeholders about the CBD’s programme of work that deals with traditional knowledge about biodiversity (Article 8j). 

Dernière notification à la Convention sur la diversité biologique

En avril 2013, le FPP et Natural Justice ont rédigé un mémoire conjoint à l’intention du Secrétariat de la Convention sur la diversité biologique (CDB), en réponse à une demande de contributions des Parties et des parties prenantes au sujet du programme de travail de la CDB portant sur les connaissances traditionnelles et la biodiversité (article 8j). 

Batwa indigenous people gain more skills in gender

A gender workshop organised in Kisoro, south-western Uganda, from the 19-21 November 2012 that aimed to initiate indigenous people in general aspects of gender, has ended successfully.

The workshop was facilitated by the United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) and Forest Peoples Programme and hosted fifty Batwa men and women from the districts of Kanungu, Mbarara, Kabale and Kisoro. Youngsters aged 14 - 20 also attended the workshop.

Le people autochtone Batwa acquiert plus de connaissances sur le genre

Un atelier sur le genre a eu lieu du 19 au 21 novembre à Kisoro, dans le sud-ouest de l’Ouganda. Cet atelier qui s’est révélé une réussite avait pour but d’initier le peuple Batwa aux aspects généraux relatifs au genre.

L’atelier a été facilité par le United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU) et le Forest Peoples Programme et a vu la participation de cinquante hommes et femmes Batwa provenant des districts de Kanungu, Mbarara, Kabale et Kisoro. Des jeunes âgés de 14 à 20 ans ont également pris part à l’atelier.

FPP E-Newsletter December 2012 (PDF Version)

Dear Friends,

The importance of ensuring respect for the rights of forest peoples’ to control their forests, lands and livelihoods, becomes ever clearer and yet more contested. As the articles in this edition of our newsletter starkly reveal, land and resource grabs are not just being imposed by commercial developers but are being actively promoted by governments, whose principle responsibility should be to protect the rights of citizens. Yet these same impositions are also being resisted, sometimes at great personal cost, by local communities and indigenous peoples.

Ugandan Batwa complete 3-D Model of their Bwindi Forest ancestral area

In 2009 a group of Batwa representatives from Uganda travelled to Ogiek communities in Kenya to learn about their situation and the different advocacy strategies they were using. One of these strategies was the use of Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM), which helped the Ogiek engage Kenyan agencies on their rights to their ancestral territory, the Mau Forest. The Batwa walked away from this visit impressed by the simplicity of the P3DM technique and hopeful of replicating it in their own context.

Two years later in June 2011, the Batwa, with support from the ARCUS Foundation, began their own three-dimensional modelling of their ancestral territory, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.  More than 100 representatives from the Batwa communities surrounding Bwindi, including youth, elders, women and men attended the exercise over a three-week period.

Les Batwa d’Ouganda achèvent le modèle tridimensionnel de leur forêt ancestrale de Bwindi

En 2009, un groupe de représentants batwa de l’Ouganda s’est rendu dans les communautés ogiek du Kenya afin de s'informer de leur situation et des différentes stratégies de plaidoyer qu'elles utilisaient. L’une de ces stratégies consistait à utiliser la modélisation participative tridimensionnelle (P3DM), qui a aidé les Ogiek à stimuler l’intérêt les institutions kényanes envers leurs droits à leur territoire ancestral, la forêt Mau. Les Batwa ont été impressionnés par la simplicité de la technique P3DM et ont conclu leur visite avec  l’espoir de pouvoir l’appliquer à leur propre contexte.

Deux ans plus tard, en juin 2011, avec le soutien de la Fondation ARCUS, les Batwa ont commencé la modélisation tridimensionnelle de leur territoire ancestral, le Parc national Impénétrable de Bwindi. Plus de 100 représentants des communautés batwa des environs de Bwindi, y compris les jeunes, les anciens, les femmes et les hommes, ont participé à cet exercice sur une période de trois semaines.

Endorois decision on indigenous peoples’ rights informs high level regional meeting in Africa

The land rights of indigenous peoples and human rights of minority communities were discussed in Kampala, Uganda on 4th March 2011 during the first East Africa Regional Dialogue on Minority Community Rights. The event came as a result of the collaboration of many national and international organisations including the United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda, Forest Peoples Programme, Minority Rights Group International, Institute for Law & Environmental Governance, Uganda Land Alliance and Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment.  The dialogue was attended by representatives of indigenous peoples and minority communities from throughout the East African region as well as government and civil society organisations from Uganda and Kenya. Honoured guests included the Minister of State for Gender and Culture from Uganda and the Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, former Commissioner of the African Commission Bahame Tom Nyanduga, representatives from the African Commission’s Working Group of Experts on Indigenous Populations/Communities, as well as indigenous leaders from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.