Members of Parliament yesterday engaged in a heated debate regarding the compensation for damage caused by wildlife, claiming that the draft law excludes children among those to be compensated.
The bill was presented by the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Security, Julienne Uwacu, during a session that was attended by the Minister of Trade and Commerce, Monique Nsanzabaganwa.
Two categories of people who should be compensated in case of damages caused by the animals are those whose property has been destroyed or damaged by animals while working or visiting the park.
The other category are people whose property is damaged by stray animal outside the parks.
The controversy in the House arose when MPs raised concerns on article four regarding the compensation to the bereaved family of a person killed by a wild animal.
The article states; “Compensation shall be allocated to a family member of the deceased who is killed by an animal and shall be determined on basis of age and consideration of the revenues the victim generated.”
Lawmakers expressed concerns over lack of a clear justification of how children would be compensated if they are injured or killed by animals.
MPs, Desire Nyandwi and Juvenal Nkusi urged the committee to make it clear whether children would not be compensated.
“It has been over six month since this issue of compensating children came to our attention, but we have been ignoring it and here we are ignoring it again in this bill as well,” said Nkusi.
In his intervention Deputy Speaker, Denis Polisi, also expressed his worries over the bill claiming that the most vulnerable group in the society was left out.
“It is a pity that children are not defended by this law yet they constitute majority of the victims of wildlife attacks,” he said.
“This is a political matter, if we are protecting children’s rights, we should also have laws justifying this policy…I propose that article four be amended to clearly indicate how children will be compensated,” he said.
MP Abbas Mukama also complained in strong terms saying that; “You are giving more value to animals than people! These children are definitely going to be having incomes in the future, so, I don’t understand why they should not be compensated.”
Following the debates, Committee Chairperson, Uwacu accepted to repeal the article so that her committee can consult before it is re-tabled before the house.