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Indigenous peoples in Uganda release landmark document outlining their rights

At the end of three intense days of discussion, exchange and drafting, representatives from the Ik, Tepeth, Batwa, Benet and Ngikarimajong have released the Kisoro Memorandum, a definitive statement of their rights and expectations for support from their government and from other actors, including the UN system.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ugandan Batwa meet with government leaders in Kampala

In December 2009, the Batwa community in south-west Uganda and their own representative organisation, the United Organisation of Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU), continued their efforts to secure their rights by holding a series of meetings with local and national level government representatives.

Uganda

Report on Indigenous People in Uganda. Published in The Indigenous World 2007, IWGIA's Yearbook pages 477-481.

UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends government action to improve living conditions for Batwa children in Uganda

A shadow report was submitted to the UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child by FPP and UOBDU (United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda) which outlined the deplorable situation of Batwa children in Uganda. As a result, the Committee expressed its concern at the situation of Batwa children, in particular with regard to their limited access to basic social services, including health care and education, and the violation of their rights to survival and development, to enjoy their own culture and to be protected from discrimination.