This week at work I was able to attend a committee meeting at the Ugandan National Judiciary where several land rights actors met with judiciary officials to discuss how to incorporate the new national land strategy into the existing national laws. I also researched the impact of ADR and mediation attempts to resolve land disputes in Northern Uganda by reading through field studies and reports in order to compile a summarized assessment for SAFE.
SAFE is convening a meeting with the judiciary next week to address the disjuncture between formal and informal land dispute resolution. This is necessary because there are a multitude of traditional and cultural leaders across the country as well as NGOs and Civil Society Organization practicing dispute resolution outside of the state judiciary channels but state actors often do not respect their decisions.
Outside mediations are crucial due to an ever-growing judicial backlog that means that it could take years to have a land case heard in court. Local mediations also tend to be cheaper and more respectful of customary law, which is supposed to be legally incorporated into state land disputes, as well as relieving some people’s concerns about state corruption in the judiciary.
In practice, however, these mediations are often ignored. For example, when one party disagrees with the outcome of a settlement they are free to take it up the state judiciary where crippling fees and backlog often turn the tide in the favor of the less vulnerable party and the informal decisions are given no regard. At the meeting next week, SAFE will be advocating for more harmony between these two systems. I will be attending the meeting as a rapporteur so it will be interesting to see the judiciary officials’ responses.
Outside of work, it was another great week in Uganda. I traveled back to Jinja for the weekend for a temporary respite from the bustle of Kampala. My friends and I went to a concert Saturday night where several Ugandan artists performed a mix of traditional and original songs and on Sunday we spent the day kayaking on the Nile. Every time I look out over the Nile I am struck by how beautiful it is. A girl could definitely get used to life here in the “pearl of Africa”.