Regional states’ rural land use laws contravenes Federal constitution

Rural land use laws of regional state not only contravenes with the constitution of Ethiopia but also are exposing farmers for a range of dangers including expropriation, according to authorities in the justice system

land use laws _ Ethiopia
Image credit : FBC

borkena
August 15, 2019

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Council of Constitutional Inquiry says regional states have been implementing rural land transfers in a way that violates pertinent legislation, reported state-affiliated media Fana Broadcasting Corporation (FBC).

The inquiry council established the claim after undertaking research in Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and Southern Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and People’s region.

Based on the findings from the study, implementation of different laws in connection with rental, and inheritance have caused pressure in the task of court and constitutional inquiries, as reported by FBC.  

Yadeta Gizaw is the leader of a constitutional teaching team which is under Ethiopia Council of Constitutional Inquiry.  He said that based on a preliminary study into rural land administration practices of regions, laws enacted and implemented by regional states in relation to rural land use contravene the Federal constitution. They are also exposing farmers to dangers, he added.

The Federal government has jurisdiction over legislating rural land use while regional states have the power to administer rural land in accordance with laws legislated by the former.

Farmers, both cultivators and those who are engaged in animal husbandry, do have the right to get and use rural land for that purpose.

Farmers have the right to sell or transfer the wealth they created in the form of inheritance.  They also have the right to rent the land or exchange it with other rural landholders, as reported by FBC.

However, the practices in the regional states mentioned above do not seem to align with Federal legislations as the former put restrictions on rights on rural land use.  For example, Oromia region allows a farmer’s rental rights between 2 and 20 years while the Tigray regional state allows between 3 years and 20 years.

Apparently, the issue has caused the pursuit of legal remedy as far as the rights of peasants are concerned. Of 2,200 cases opened in the years between 2008 and 2011 Ethiopian calendar (Which is between 2016 and 2019) for constitutional interpretation, 500 of the cases (that is nearly 25 %) are related to rural land use.

Supreme Court Judge Dr. Teferi Gebru says “The problem is the federal rural landholding administration legislation is very detailed and has given a broader opportunity for regional states, and that the regional states have enacted their own laws and implemented it,” as cited in FBC report.

Peasants have faced the danger of expropriation of their landholdings in a rental arrangement of up to 30 years as a result of over-broadening of the federal legislation in the regional states.

Dr. Teferi explained one of the negative impacts of the practice by way of applying different laws for citizens. It has also compelled judges to refer to different legislations upon dealing with cases related to rural land use.



Related Topic : Land reforms – Keeping a 21st century Ethiopia in mind 

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