State's duty to provide protection for the evicted
Publish date: 11 February 2019
Issue Number: 810
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
The failure of Uganda's Government to pass laws protecting people evicted from private and public land has come under the sharp eye of the High Court there. Following an application brought by a local human rights lawyer, the court has declared that failure to pass laws setting out proper procedures in the case of evictions violated the rights to life, dignity and property of those affected. As Carmel Rickard explains in her A Matter of Justice column on the Legalbrief site, the court has ordered the government to report back within seven months on its progress towards such legislative guidelines. The court also said these guidelines should be developed via public consultation and participation and with reference to the relevant United Nations-recommended best practice. Drawing from decisions of the courts in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and SA, among others, as well as international law and other UN documents, the judge said it was the state's duty to not only protect property but also to ensure that the social and economic rights of the people were given meaning. The state had to prevent third parties from interfering with the human rights of those being evicted, and this included laws to ensure that landlords, property developers, landowners and others acted in a way that respected the human rights of others, the judge ruled.