By Fred Kiva
KAMPALA. The Coalition on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is urging government on recognition, protection and promotion of rights of indigenous minority communities.
In a post International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, statement issued on Friday, the Coalition stressed the need for protection of the indigenous people’s rights. The International day of the World’s Indigenous People is annually commemorated on August 9.
On 23rd December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People shall be observed on 9th August every year. On this day, people from around the world are encouraged to spread the UN’s message on the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous people.
Although there was no official commemoration of the day in Uganda, the Coalition is using it as a platform to remind government on the plight of the indigenous communities.
They observed that many indigenous minorities, especially the Batwa in Kisoro, Kanungu, Kabale and Bundibugyo, the Batuku and Babwisi in Ntoroko and Bundibugyo, the Ik, Napore and Mening in Kaabong, the Ngokutio in Kitgum, the Benet in Kween and others in various parts of Uganda have continuously lost land to conservation and have not been compensated or resettled. The Coalition argues that as a result of displacement, these communities have lost identity and cultural values since their way of life has changed.
“The Indigenous Communities Coalition in Uganda request Government and Civil Society Organizations to do the following;
Resettle all indigenous populations that were displaced by Government development programs as a matter of priority including extending post-resettlement support i.e. skills building to enable indigenous communities survive given the change in way of life they are exposed to, access to services and productive resources,” the Coalition said.
They also implored government to direct various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to benchmark indicators for disaggregating data on the status of indigenous people in order to ensure they are not left behind in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) monitoring and reporting.
The Coalition on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples consists of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development; Equity and Rights Department, Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda, Minority Rights Group International, Community Development and Resource Network. Other members of the Coalition are; Uganda Women’s Network, Human Rights Network – Uganda, Initiative for Social Economic Rights, Defending Defenders, Foundation for Human Rights Initiative and Global Rights Alert.