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Parliament Debates Amendments to National Land Commission Act to Address Historical Land Injustices

Apr 30, 2024 #Kenya News, #News
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Members of Parliament engaged in a robust debate on proposed amendments to the National Land Commission Act, aimed at addressing historical land injustices and empowering the National Land Commission (NLC) to review land grants and recommend appropriate redress without time constraints.

The National Land Commission (Amendment) Bill, sponsored by Hon. Owen Baya of Kilifi North, seeks to restore the NLC’s authority to review all grants or dispositions of public land to establish their propriety and legality. The proposed amendments come in response to Section 14 of the Principal Act expiring, rendering the NLC unable to continue its review process.

During the parliamentary session, members lauded the bill’s significance in empowering the NLC to rectify historical land injustices. Hon. (Dr) Shadrack Mwiti of South Imenti emphasized the importance of the bill in enabling the Commission to revoke title deeds acquired unlawfully and restore land to rightful owners. He stressed the need for justice to be served according to the law.

Hon. James Nyikal of Seme, while expressing support for the bill, raised concerns about potential overreach and suggested a compromise to extend the limitation period to 15 years instead of removing it entirely. He highlighted the importance of striking a balance between correcting injustices and providing stability in land ownership.

Highlighting long-standing land disputes, Hon. Timothy Kipchumba of Marakwet West proposed amendments to ensure expedient resolution of historical injustices, suggesting a strict one-year deadline for addressing such issues. He emphasized the need to prevent prolonged disputes and ensure timely justice.

Hon. David Gikaria of Nakuru Town East argued against imposing time limits on the Commission’s work, citing constitutional provisions allowing the NLC to investigate land injustices at any time. He cautioned against hindering the resolution of long-standing disputes.

Emphasizing the essential role of the NLC in protecting public land, Hon. George Murugara of Tharaka called for reinstating and strengthening the Commission’s authority to reclaim illegally acquired lands. He underscored the need to address land grabbing practices that have deprived Kenyans of public spaces.

Hon. Mishi Mboko of Likoni echoed these sentiments, highlighting the importance of managing public lands and assessing the fairness of land grants. She emphasized the need to empower the NLC to investigate historical land injustices and prevent the loss of its investigative powers.

Supporting the bill, Hon. Millie Odhiambo-Mabona of Suba North recounted the history of land injustices in the country and called for caution to prevent the process from being exploited for personal gain. She stressed the importance of transparency and accountability in addressing land disputes.

In his closing remarks, Hon. Owen Baya appreciated the contributions of fellow members and emphasized the importance of empowering the NLC to address land problems in the country. He reiterated the bill’s aim to resolve historical injustices and restore land rights to affected individuals and communities.

The National Land Commission (Amendment) Bill is set to undergo further legislative processes, including a third reading in the National Assembly and a clause-by-clause review in the Committee of the Whole House. As discussions continue, stakeholders remain committed to finding equitable solutions to address historical land injustices and ensure justice for all Kenyans.

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