The Uganda Law Reform Commission has been called on to re-examine land rights in mineral rich areas.
Nicholas Opiyo, Human Rights lawyer and crusader says the current form of the law leaves communities in mineral deposit areas especially the Karamoja communities vulnerable.
His thoughts are supported by the Human Rights Watch report which says huge mineral deposits in Uganda’s Karamoja region, could further deepen the suffering of people living there.
The report says mining companies have disregarded the region’s indigenous people’s land rights – sometimes fencing off swathes of land without their consent.
Minerals, especially gold, have brought frantic manoeuvres from mining companies and powerful individuals in government who want to receive money from the precious resource, according to the report.
Land in Karamoja is particularly important to the community, which depends on nomadic pastoralism for survival. “Private sector investment could transform the region – providing jobs and improving the residents’ security, access to water, roads, and other infrastructure,” the report says.
More than 80 per cent of Karamoja is living below the poverty line and lagging behind the rest of the country on all socio-economic indicators.
Karamoja has the poorest development indicators in the country – highest poverty levels, malnutrition, and 80% of the population living on less than Shs4000 ($1) a day.
Most of the artisanal and small scale miners and other communities have wept for support but often received blank promises.