Kampala, Uganda| GODFREY SSALI | The state minister of lands Princess Persis Namuganza has re-assured of government’s commitment to provide the required funds for the Lands Inquiry Commission to resume its public hearings into land conflicts, land acquisition, Administration, Land Management as well as land registration in Uganda.
This follows comments by the chairperson of the commission Justice Catherine Bamugemereire that the commission was suspending public hearings after running out of funds.
Bamugemeirere told journalists at the secretariat in Wandegeya that the commission had run out of money for making field visits and giving out summons to witnesses.
“We are suspending public hearings. However, the probe investigations desk will remain open to continue receiving complaints from the public during the break,” said Bamugemeire.
However, Namuganza said the government has already started processing funds to enable the committee finish with its work.
Namuganza also said that the commission has been requested to use”in camera” proceedings for some witnesses who may be too scared to give evidence due to fear of being identified and targeted after the proceedings conclude.
“Like you have observed, some land cases involve high ranking public officials and soldiers who are acting with impunity. This fear prevents witnesses from coming forward to testify openly about their observations and from identifying wrongdoers, “ said Namuganza
It is expected to file a preliminary report on findings so far by the end of this month and a final report by August despite the break.
In December last year, President Museveni appointed Court of Appeal judge, Catherine Bamugemereire to head the seven-man committee to probe into land matters that have become highly controversial in the land.
She is working alongside other commissioners such as former Mengo minister, Robert Ssebunnya, Ms Mary Oduka Ochan, Ms Joyce Gunze Habaasa, Dr Rose Nakayi, former Attorney General, Fredrick Ruhindi and Mr George Bagonza Tinkamanyire. The support team include, Ms Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya (commission secretary), Dr Douglas Singiza (Assistant Secretary-Research), leading Kampala advocate, Mr Ebert Byenkya (lead counsel) and Mr John Bosco Rujagaata Suuza (Assistant Lead counsel).
Bamugemereire said that despite running out of start funds, the deadlines still stand.