Draft Bill proposes tribunal to address historical injustices

Squatters protest following a land dispute in Majengo Mombasa on February 1, 2015. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA |

What you need to know:

  • Victims of the injustices to be given five years to reclaim the land through a proposed special tribunal.

Kenyans who have lost land unjustly will now have a chance to reclaim it following the crafting of a landmark Bill that seeks to address cases of historical injustices.

The Investigation and Adjudication of Historical Land Injustices Bill, 2015 has been prepared by the National Land Commission (NLC) and seeks to put to rest the many injustices relating to the resource before and after independence.

Victims of the injustices will be given five years to reclaim the land through a proposed special tribunal.

The proposed Special Land Claims Appeal Tribunal will have a presiding judge and a number of judges as decided by the Judicial Service Commission if the Bill becomes law.

The 2010 Constitution tasked the commission to come up with a solution to the land problems.

“A person shall be entitled to lodge a claim under this Act if he is dispossessed of a right in land as a result of a historical land injustice,” says the Bill.

A Disputes Adjudication Board will also be established and will look into all the claims and determine whether to forward them to the tribunal or other resolution mechanisms.

The Board will also award damages, order for restitution of land, resettle affected people, revoke illegally acquired land or order for compensation of the victims.

The Bill has been prepared by a taskforce formed by the commission and chaired by Commissioner Samuel Tororei.

NLC will seek input from the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution and the Attorney-General before the Bill is taken to the House for passage.

Dr Tororei on Friday said the proposed law will enable the country find a lasting solution to the land wrongs committed in the past and give a way forward in dealing with similar problems in the future.

“I would be very disappointed if it does not help us solve our past historical injustices. This is a nine-month effort and we expect that it will help us get a solution to the problems. This is a home-grown solution and we expect it to give us a way of closing this matter,” Dr Tororei told the Nation on Friday after arriving from New Zealand where he had led his team on a benchmarking trip.

MERELY PRODUCED REPORTS

Kenya Land Alliance Coordinator Odenda Lumumba welcomed the Bill, noting this was the first time serious legal framework is being put in place.

He said that this was unlike in the past where many commissions set up to investigate land related issues merely produced reports that are gathering dust in government offices.

“This is a constitutional provision that mandates the National Land Commission to come up with a law that will guide the process of settling cases of historical injustices.”

But Mr Lumumba said the whole process started on the wrong foot when some of the members of the taskforce were accused of being beneficiaries of land injustices.

He said people raised concerns particularly with regard to two members, Kassim Mwamzandi from Kwale County and Wilberforce Kisiero from Bungoma.

“These two were absent in the sittings but there was no attempt to de-gazette them altogether to give Kenyans the confidence that such people were nowhere near the taskforce.”

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