Four children die in forceful Hoima evictions

Four toddlers were killed during the brutal eviction of Hoima residents by security personnel from a contested chunk of land in February this year, the select Committee of Parliament investigating the eviction heard on Wednesday.

The deceased toddlers have been identified as one year-old Samuel Owuuchi, Stephen Ondizi, Rogers Jalwing and Samuel Awungi, all below 2-years-old ages. The death of the minors came up on Wednesday when the Select Committee of parliament chaired by Bukholi North MP Gaster Mugoya Kyawa visited the contested land on a fact finding mission.

The contested land measuring 485 acres is at the center of a dispute between Edgar Agaba, a businessman in Hoima town and more than 500 families. Residents explained that the minors where killed when a combined team of police and military officers brutally evicted them from their ancestral land covering Kyabisagazi 1 and Kyabisagazi 2 villages in Kyabisagazi parish Kigorobya Sub County on February 13th, 2019.

They explained that the some of the minors were left behind by their parents who were running for dear life because when the officers stormed their homes and opened fire around 3am under the guys to tracking down rebels.

Charles Obecen, the father to the late Samuel Owuuchi, says they fled leaving behind the minor in their house. He says the law enforcement officers torched his house burning the minor beyond recognition. Obecen says he has never accessed his land since the incident because of heavy military deployment not until Wednesday when legislators visited the area.

The select committee chairperson, Gasper Mugoya Kyawa condemned the manner in, which the minors met their death at the hand of security. He wondered why what started as a cordon and search operation ended into torching resident’s homes, destruction of food crops, harassment, torture and raping of women.

“Actually four children died in the process, four children so you can imagine. you have also heard that we are going also to verify that some women were raped, you have heard it has come out and now we want now to find out those perpetrators to face the regards of the law thats how we are going to handle this matter but as for now, these people must remain here” Mugoya said

The select committee was constituted by the speaker of Parliament; Rebecca Kadaga on March 6th after the Ora County Member of parliament, Lawrence Biyika Songa brought the matter to the attention of parliament on February 21, 2019.

The select committee is operating under six terms of reference including studying all claims of ownership on the disputed land, investigating allegations relating to identity and status of persons evicted, examining the involvement and conduct of security officers in the eviction of families.

The committee is expected to complete work in 45 days and report back to Parliament. The other committee members are Budaka Woman MP, Pamela Kamoga Naiso, Makindye East MP, Ibrahim Kasozi Biribawa, Bududa Woman MP, Justine Khainza, UPDF Representative, Brig. Flavia Byekwaso, Oyam Woman MP, Santa Alum, and Busiki County MP, Paul Akamba.