There is need to speed up the Prime Minister's Order establishing committees in charge of supervising expropriation projects if the recurring issues that continue to hinder the process are to be dealt with, the Chairperson of the National Human Rights, Marie-Claire Mukasine (inset), has said.
Presenting her annual report to members of both chambers of parliament on Friday, Mukasine said that the committees would go a long way in fixing some of the challenges that have come with expropriating Rwandans over the last couple of years.
"As part of improving the expropriation processes, we are requesting for the fast tracking of the Prime Minister's Order determining the organization, functioning, responsibilities and composition of the committees in charge of supervision of projects of expropriation in the public interest," she said.
Five years late
Although the law relating to expropriation in the public interest was gazetted five years ago, the guidelines upon which such committees referred to in the law would be basing to function are yet to be established.
The law states that the committees fall in three categories. They include the one in charge of supervision of projects of expropriation in the public interest at the district level where the project concerns one district.
The other category is the one in charge of supervision at the City of Kigali level where the project concerns more than one district within the boundaries of the City of Kigali.
The third category is on the national level where the project concerns more than one district or is a project at the national level, but also involves more than one district within the boundaries of the City of Kigali.
Currently, the professional property valuers are dealing with the local government grassroots authorities in the supervision process.
Mukasine told the lawmakers that a survey involving 15 districts and 1,037 households indicates that property involving 817 households have already been valued, 577 people have been compensated while 240 were yet to be paid due to different reasons.
"Some of the reasons for the delay in payment include failure to reach an agreement on the final price, failure to produce the required documents, and caveats placed on some property due to family wrangles," she said.
The survey was conducted in Nyamasheke, Karongi, Rubavu, Musanze, Burera, Gicumbi, Nyagatare, Rwamagana, Bugesera, Kicukiro, Gasabo, Muhanga, Nyanza, Nyamagabe and Huye districts.
A recurring problem
A report produced by the same commission in June this year indicates that both substantive and procedural conditions continue to be ignored during the expropriation process.
As far as compensation time frame is concerned, it was found that among 577 households who were compensated, 313 (54.2%) households were paid within 120 days while 264 (45.8%) were paid after which is in contravention with what the law stipulates.
Concerning the relocation of households after receiving the compensations, there were surveyed 42 households who were relocated without being paid.
Mukasine said that the land price references are not annually published as required by the law and do not fully reflect the market value, leading to unfair valuations.
"We recommend that acceptable scientific methods in establishing and publishing the annual property reference prices are put in place and made accessible and understandable to the local community," she said.
Seth Karamage, the Resident Country Director of the Strengthening Rwandan Administrative Justice (SRAJ), told The New Times in an interview that although there has been important substantive reforms including a new expropriation law in 2015, a number of challenges remain.
SRAJ Project works mostly towards educating citizens about their rights and orienting them where to address their complaints.
"There is a need to shed light on the value of providing easy to understand information to the land expropriation beneficiaries and some of the issues can be fixed by better planning and better advance communication by local authorities," he said.