Soroti, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A prominent law firm has written to the government demanding one trillion shillings in compensation to families affected by the recent Karamojong attacks in Teso sub-region.
Omongole & Co. Advocates and Legal Consultants have notified the Attorney General, the Chief of Defense Forces, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of Defense and the district chairpersons of Abim, Kotido, Moroto and Nakapiripirit their intentions to sue over the escalating cattle rustling in Teso and Karamoja sub-regions should they fail to take immediate action to end violations of human rights in the affected areas.
The lawyers in their notice written on Wednesday observe that there has been an upsurge of cattle rustling affecting the districts of Kapelebyong, Katakwi, Amuria and parts of Kumi which have claimed lives and property, displacing thousands of people in the affected areas. They add that the security situation has destroyed livelihoods and returned communities to a state of hopelessness since early March 2022.
“The people of Teso sub-region have been subjected to a lot of untold suffering, murders, raping of women and children, torture, displacement from homes, placement into Internally Displaced camps (IDP camps), theft of property, rustling of their animals and complete denial of socio-economic activities in the face of government and its institutions constitutionally mandated to protect them and their property”, the notice reads in part.
The lawyers say that the illegal and barbaric activities have also affected the people of Karamoja as a result of cross-border raids from the suspected Turkana community of Kenya.
According to the lawyers, the government should compensate for over 20 lives lost as a result of suspected Karamojong attacks, a sum of UGX. 300M per head and compensate for 5,000 cows stolen at one million Shillings each.
They also demand compensation of property lost to over 5,000 people at UGX. 20M each, compensation for violation of rights of 15,000 people at UGX. 50M and damages for 5,000 people at UGX. 50M each.
The lawyers are also asking the government to provide household items like clothes, food and all basic necessities and payment of interest at 25 percent commercial rate for animals and property lost including the cost of the suit.
“Take notice that the above demands be met immediately from the consolidated funds of the Ugandan taxpayers and not anybody’s personal money and failure of which we will be left with no other option but to commence court actions to hold you all responsible directly and indirectly for suffering, murders, torture and violation of rights in the High Court of Uganda and other regional and international courts”, the notice ends.
In 2018, Omongole & Co. Advocates successfully sued the Attorney General and three district councils of Moroto, Kotido and Nakapiripirit in a similar case. The case that was filed in 2005 sought remedies on violation of rights from the Karamojong rustlers, soldiers and rebel groups that killed, looted property and forced people into camps between 1994 and 2001.
Since the security situation deteriorated in the Teso districts bordering Karamoja, residents and their leaders have made different calls for government intervention in the matter. The recent call came from Kapelebyong and Katakwi who sought the reinstatement of home guards popularly known as Arrow Boys to combat the insecurity along the border.
However, the government pledged to have the matter addressed with the deployment of soldiers and the auxiliary forces like the Local Defense Unit personnel to man security at the border. Information from highly placed sources indicates that President Yoweri Museveni is expected to meet with the leaders from Karamoja and neighbouring districts next week over the security matter.