The Implementation of Rwanda’s Expropriation Law and its Outcomes on the Population


Paper prepared for presentation at the “2016 WORLD BANK CONFERENCE ON LAND AND POVERTY,” The World Bank—Washington DC, March 14-18, 2016.

Authors: Hadley Rose, Frank Mugisha, Andrews Kananga & Dr. Daniel Clay – Legal Aid Forum, Rwanda

Rwanda is undergoing rapid development, often leading to expropriation of private lands. The expropriation law provides procedures to protect the rights of property owners in the expropriation process. The implementation of that law, however, has caused concerns about potential human rights violations and about how expropriation is affecting the population both economically and socially. This research, carried out from October 2014 – August 2015, showed that expropriated households faced severe declines in their monthly income, and sometimes faced months of restrictions on being able to make basic improvements to their properties while expropriations were pending. Despite these issues, however, government did manage to notify most landowners being expropriated of the expropriation process through public meetings, and in fact most expropriated households believed the projects causing expropriation were in the best interests of the community.

Insufficient and delayed compensation were the most pressing issues reported by both government stakeholders and expropriated households, suggesting the possibility for collaborative efforts to decrease delays. Arbitrary variations in property values were also shown, which could be addressed by improving the independence of the valuation process. Compensation-related issues also have a negative impact on expropriated individuals, especially those losing a large percentage of their property or relocating.

Key Words: Expropriation, Rwanda, Land Use, Economic Development

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