Rights watchdog pokes holes in land compensation regime

Monday September 7 2020

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National Commission on Human Rights has raised alarm over violation of property rights. Photo ~ Cyril Ndegeya 

LEONCE MUVUNYI
By LEONCE MUVUNYI
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A rights group has faulted government for failing to abide by expropriation law when compensating property owners.

According to a survey on respect to human rights in an expropriation process, the government has not adjusted its compensation rates to match market value of properties and adhere to timelines.

The survey carried out by the National Commission for Human Rights found that the government has been violating the law in past compensation.

According to the survey, while the expropriation law indicates that the values of the land and prices of the property incorporated to expropriation must be based on market rates, government officials do not follow the law.

“The survey realised that article 22 of law No 32/2015 of 11/06/2015 relating to expropriation in the public interest was not fully respected. The land prices references were not annually published and those prices did not fully reflect market value,” the report that was released last week noted.

Marie Claire Mukasine, executive secretary of the National Commission for Human Rights said that property valuation is not adjusted yearly to match market value, leading to unfair compensations.

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“With outdated prices on properties valuation, many people always find their properties undervalued during the process,” said Ms Mukasine.

The report revealed that 632 households, which represent 47.3 per cent of 1,337 households that have been expropriated between March and June received unfair compensation.

According to the report, among those who got unfair compensation, 30 per cent of them, requested for flexibility to choose the types of compensation they prefer.

The households noted that there is a need for a mutual agreement for people to be given other properties like land and buildings, instead of money, which is considered as default compensation by the law.

On the other hand, the report noted that besides unfair compensation, 612 households which represent 45.8 per cent of the expropriated households get compensation of their destroyed properties beyond the timeline of 120 days as explicitly provided by law.

“Denying a fair compensation to the destroyed properties of the citizen affect their social and economic welfare because they occupy them without rights to put them in use,” reads the report.

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