Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Land disputes still dominate petitions to the Ombudsman - The New Times, 30.04.2012

Land wrangles dominate the cases received at the Office of the Ombudsman, according to a report from the government’s anti-graft watchdog.

Out of a total of 3,662 cases received between 2010 and 2011, 525 were related to land wrangles, followed by 421 administrative cases from both public and private institutions.

The rest, according to the report, are social disputes arising from different parts of the country.

The report further indicates that 80 per cent of the land disputes registered during this reporting year are currently before court.

The New Times has since established that there was a substantial increase in the number of land-related wrangles compared to the previous years, with only 212 cases reported in the reporting year 2009-2010. 

Describing the probable cause behind the increase, Sarafin Rumazimisi, the officer in charge of prevention and fighting injustice unit at the Ombudsman’s Office, said that since the inception of land registration process, many cases had erupted with different people laying claim to given parcels of land.

“When one registers a piece of land, others come out to claim that same land and this is because many people somewhat are waking up to the reality brought about by the ongoing reforms like land registration.” 

According to another source from the Ombudsman’s Office who sought anonymity, most of the land wrangles are attributable to negligence by several local authorities. He observed that some officials fail to solve land disputes with some already riddled in corruption. 

The disclosure somewhat corresponds with a recent survey by the Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD), which revealed that over 90 per cent of community disputes are related to land with insecurity of land rights an outstanding issue, where one parcel of land is claimed by different parties.

RISD closely works with the Office of the Ombudsman to mainly address land related issues at the grassroots.

The survey shows that the majority of land disputes are both inter and intra family, mainly arising from unequal inheritance of land, polygamy and children born out of illegal marriages.

Meanwhile, the majority of the 421 administrative cases reported mostly involve issues of unfair dismissal from work and non payment of salaries or wages.

Among other common cases reported are those related to social conflicts while the insurance industry and the country’s pension body reported the least number of cases with nine and 34, respectively.

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