In August 2001, the inhabitants of the villages of Kitemba, Luwunga, Kijunga and Kiryamakobe (approximately 4,000 peasants) in Mubende district (Uganda) were violently expelled from their ancestral land of 2,524 hectares they have been living on for years. The Ugandan army forced them to leave their premises because the parastatal Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) wanted to lease it to the KCP (Kaweri Coffee Plantation), a 100% subsidiary of the NKG (Neumann Kaffee Gruppe) based in Hamburg/Germany. The eviction was described by the evictees as particularly cruel. The inhabitants were threatened and forced to leave at gunpoint and several of those being evicted were beaten in the process; others even lost their lives. Movable properties were looted; crops were cut down and uprooted. The soldiers set houses on fire and demolished them, including the fully equipped private community clinic and six churches.
More than 2,000 people were forced to leave behind all their modest possessions. None of the victims have received compensation, either for the loss of their land or for the state of extreme emergency they suffered immediately after the eviction. However, NG (Neumann Gruppe) claims to have helped to secure the payment of compensation by paying part of the lease in advance and demanding to see receipts for compensation payments. According to NG; such a commitment went far beyond the company’s legal obligations; as under Ugandan law, the payment of compensation in the event of relocation is the sole responsibility of the seller of the land in question, not the buyer or occupier. This means that it was the responsibility of the government to make sure that these compensations were paid. But it does not fully excuse NG because it should have realized that there were irregularities and that it was occupying disputed land.
These evicted residents have been engaged in a peaceful struggle for justice and have taken legal action against the Ugandan government and Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ldt. Unfortunately, the legal proceedings have been delayed on many occasions, sometimes due to questionable maneuvers. What even makes it more difficult is the challenge of prosecuting the German parent company Neumann Kaffee Gruppe. Presently, “It is still almost impossible under the German legal system to prosecute a German company for human rights violations committed outside the country. The German legal system is lagging behind and ignores certain economic realities and related human rights violations” of their corporations in foreign countries. However, Nevertheless, the shortcomings of the German legal system are not sufficient to excuse the violations that its companies commit outside its territory. And yet “only by adopting appropriate laws will it be possible to force multinationals such as Neumann to acknowledge their responsibilities and to remedy human rights violations they are accused of in cases like Mubende”.
Evicted persons must be compensated and illegally taken land must be returned to them! It is scandalous that almost two decades after the eviction, neither Kaweri and Neumann nor has the Ugandan government given any compensation to the evicted people”. Until December 2019 nothing had changed in this situation. Mr. Baleke Kayiira Peter, spokesperson for the complainants, pledged to ensure that those evicted are fully compensated for the illegal eviction by the Ugandan army. He has continued to be an object of intimidation by the authorities because of his position. On 16 December 2019, shortly after attending a court hearing on these evictions, Mr Baleke was detained without an arrest warrant and he had to spend almost a month in detention. Released on 10 February 2020, his safety remains at risk: “My freedom and my life are both unpredictable”, he regretted after his release.
It is about time if not already late the Ugandan government found a solution to this problem. Uganda has ratified several core international human rights treaties. The situation in Mubende is a violation of international and national laws, particularly those that recognize the human rights to adequate food, water, housing, health, education, due process and access to remedy and reparation for victims. The Ugandan government cannot continue to oppress its people in the name of selfish interests under the guise of development. In 2015 the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) called on the Ugandan state to take immediate steps to ensure that the rights of those forcibly evicted from Mubende district are restored.
The cry of these people needs to be heard : “You build state of the art coffee plantations, you reap from our lands, your economy in Germany is soaring higher and higher at the expense of us the locals, we were lords before you invaded us, we have lost brothers, sisters elders, our sanitation worsens every other day, you promised us compensations, you promised us schools, 20 years down the road, we still waiting, yet you have made billions of turnovers from our lands. We have no one to cry to, our government has for long forsaken us.”
AEFJN Policy Officer
Video Engl: Coffee to go – with the taste of eviction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InjgvSAcafc
 Land grabbing and human rights: The involvement of European corporate and financial entities in land grabbing outside the European Union – Exchange of letters between the Neumann Gruppe and the authors of the study. Available on https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/578007/EXPO_STU(2016)578007(ANN01)_EN.pdf
 A comment of a victim