Land Rights and Expropriation in Ethiopia

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: This study examines and analyses the expropriation laws and practices in Ethiopia. The objective of the thesis is to analyze and describe the land rights and expropriation laws in Ethiopia and to compare them with the practice in order to determine the fairness of compensation. The study is made against the Ethiopian Constitution and other subsidiary legislations which provide the basic land rights and the nature and details of expropriation.The basic argument made in this thesis is that even if the Ethiopian Constitution provides and guarantees common ownership of land (together with the state) to the people, this right has not been fully realized whether in terms of land accessibility, enjoyablity, and payment of fair compensation in the event of expropriation.The reasons have to do either with the faulty nature of the laws or with their implementation by public authorities. From the outset, the constitution excludes land as a subject of compensation. For this reason, land is being excluded from the compensation package and hence it has no value for the holder. Urban land holders are denied location value of their property, which they can collect it otherwise during sale, and hence the compensation becomes unfair. Similarly, rural farmers are denied compensation for the complete loss of their farm land. The denial of compensation for the value of the land is categorically in contradiction with the very principle of joint ownership of land by the people and the state.There are also other reasons which are related to the law or its practical applicability, such as valuation process which reduces the amount of compensation. There are also property interests which are not included as compensable interests.Payment of compensation is one factor for secure property right and hence sustainable development. To ensure fair compensation in the event of compensation, a legal and policy level reform is necessary to address and amend the existing problems. Further, to harmonize the laws and practices is imperative to reduce the amount of injustice existed in today’s expropriation procedure in Ethiopia.

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