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Experts want National Land Commission Bill rushed

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – Several civil society organisations led by the Law Society of Kenya now want the National Land Commission Bill debated and passed before the other land laws arguing that the commission’s input would be central to formulation of the laws.

They say Parliament should pass this Bill within one month, and not be subjected to the proposed deadline extension by three months.

Lawyer Kithure Kindiki argued that setting up the land commission will also ensure public participation in the envisaged land reforms.

Speaking during a meeting with the parliamentary committee on Lands and Natural Resources on Thursday, Kindiki further faulted the proposed Land Bill saying it breached the Constitution as it lacked provisions for public participation.

“Public participation is missing from the Land Bill contrary to Article 10 (2) of the Constitution and we want to see provisions facilitating public participation including hearings and any investigations that the land commission may take,” he argued.

The group also argued that the timelines set for the Land Bill as well as the Land Registration Bill should have been extended by six months to ensure credible laws.

Lawyer Paul Ndung’u who chaired the Ndung’u Commission on irregular allocation of public land, asked the MPs to lobby for this extension as the time set aside was not enough to review the Bills and ensure that they were not flawed.

“These Bills are going to make very drastic changes in the laws and we think that if we are making such substantial changes we should be very careful. Our suggestion is that Parliament should allow the stakeholders more time on the Land Bill as well as the Land Registration Bill,” he said.

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Committee Chairperson Mutava Musyimi however blamed the Executive for delaying the Bills forcing Parliament to work within the tight timelines.

He argued that such delays risked undermining the integrity of the laws noting that his committee had been forced to call a rushed stakeholders meeting to review the proposals in the land laws with a view of correcting any underlying irregularities.

“With regard to the timelines the Executive has failed us because it has had plenty of time to get these Bills on the floor of the House. So we went to Naivasha to review the laws and help the Executive with as many amendments as we felt were possible,” he said.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga however defended the Executive, during his session in Parliament on Wednesday, saying some of the Bills were too complex and could not be rushed through Cabinet.

Musyimi added that the committee was in favour of extending the timelines so as to avoid passing shoddy Bills.

“There was a proposal by a parliamentary committee to extend the time to six months so we have made a decision to support this Motion. And we hope that we can get the majority on the floor of the House,” he observed.

Also present at the stakeholders’ forum with the MPs was Kituo Cha Sheria’s Priscilla Nyokabi, the Chair of the now defunct Constitution of Kenya Review Commission, Yash Pal Ghai, the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya, the Kenya Network of Women and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

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