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Gov’t Ordered to Resettle Banyabindi Minority Group

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The affected members were displaced by the government during the establishment of Mubuku Irrigation Scheme, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Ibuga prisons between 1962 and 1980, without being compensated or resettled.
Members of Banyabindi Minority Group After The Ruling

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A Tribunal of the Equal Opportunities Commission has ordered the government to resettle members of the Banyabindi minority group living in displacement in and around Kasese district.

The affected members were displaced by the government during the establishment of Mubuku Irrigation Scheme, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Ibuga prisons between 1962 and 1980, without being compensated or resettled.

According to 2014, housing and population census, the Banyabindi minority group consists of about 16,000 members, a figure community leaders dispute saying they have been scattered in different districts by insecurities meted against them by Basongora and the Bakonzo people.

The landmark ruling follows two years of inquiry into a complaint filed by the Banyabindi Cultural Institution and some aggrieved community members in 2017. They were challenging discrimination in employment, education and access to land in Kasese district and at the national level.  

In their petition, the group asked the Equal Opportunities Commission to compel the government to resettle them and recognize their cultural leader and chiefdom. The petitioners said that they have been denied rights to ownership of land, education, political, cultural, property, life and employment, among others. 

In the education sector, they pointed out that the use of Lukonzo as a medium of instruction in government schools, in implementation of the thematic curriculum, pushed many children from Banyabindi families out of school because they could not comprehend the language. 

Members of the group also testified that they were being denied jobs on account of their ancestry and that none of their children has ever received a scholarship, political appointment of a job in government. They also pointed out that the District Service Commission in Kasese, which they consider their mother district is dominated by the Basongora and Bakonzo ethnic groups.         

Now the tribunal has ruled that the government and Kasese District Local Government introduce and implement affirmative action to integrate members of the Banyabindi Minority group into governance, education and employment into civil service in the district. 

Commissioner Joel Cox Ojuku, the Presiding Judge in the matter ruled that Kasese District Local Government and the central government should undertake reforms in constitution of the District Service Commission to prevent discriminating minority groups.       

//Cue in; “It is my opinion… 

Cue out…. the complainant community.”//   

Although the tribunal declined to order for compensation for damages, the Banyabindi suffered as a consequence of discrimination and loss of properties, it ruled that the Banyabindi minority group requires special affirmative action to integrate them in governance and civil service in the country.       

//Cue in; “Affirmative action should…       

Cue out….in the central government.”//  

The Cultural Leader of the Banyabindi Minority Group Iseebantu Elisha Mugisha Ateenyi says the ruling is a big victory for his people who have suffered discrimination for a long time.     

//Cue in; “It is favouring...     

Cue out…implemented as required.”// 

Augustine Byabasaija Amooti, the Chairperson of Banyabindi Community says the ruling is a major milestone for the economic recovery and development of the minority group.       

//Cue in; “As Banyabindi community...     

Cue out…. on a number of issues.”//       

Byabasija says they would like to be resettled within Kasese and the neighbourhood and prevent further destruction and loss of their properties.       

//Cue in; “We are supposed…     

Cue out…. security is concerned.”//    

More than 250 members of the Banyabindi Minority group travelled from Kasese district to Bugolobi to listen to the landmark ruling. They sat quietly in the Chamber as the judge read the ruling. Outside the chamber, they hugged and greeted in celebration of the victory.         

Sylvia Cheptoris, the lawyer who represented the government in the case said they will not appeal the decision of the tribunal.