Civil Society Lauds Legislature for Passing Land Rights Act; Calls on President Weah to Approve
Monrovia – Liberia’s Civil Society Working Group on Land Rights Reform has lauded the Legislature for passing into law “one of the most progressive land rights bill on the African Continent”.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
At a news conference on Thursday, September 6, the CSO Working Group indicated that the passage of the Land Rights Bill by the Legislature marks the beginning of correcting more than a century-old injustice in the land tenure system of Liberia.
CSO Working Group: “By this passage of the bill, distinguished members of the 54th Legislature, you have led us to begin a march in Liberia around land reform which inaugurates an opportunity to correct over a century and half old injustice in our land tenure system-a system which give land rights and ownership by title to a small percentage of our citizens; but denied over 80 percent of the population the same right to own and have title for their ancestral lands-leaving them only with the right to access and use of their land.”
The group called on President George Manneh Weah to use his constitutional mandate and approve the bill to become a law.
“Finally to our leader, endowed with the authority to put the stamp of approval on this history march to legalize land rights for all Liberians, His Excellency, President George Manneh Weah, we want to say the gavel is in your hands, and our people’s joy and happiness, the right to own their land and improve their lives, as well as to free Liberia and strengthen the peace in Liberia is in your hands,” the group appealed.
The CSO working group made the commendation following the passage of the Land Rights Act by the Legislature on Tuesday, September 6, 2018.
Since the introduction of the bill in 2014, the CSO Working Group has been engaging all stakeholders in the process of the bill’s passage.
It can be recalled that when the bill was passed in 2017 by the House of Representatives of the 53rd Legislature, which led to uproar on the shape of the bill not only from civil society, but from communities and many stakeholders, the Working Group did a thorough review of the document, flagging out several parts in the 2014 bill that it said was tampered with in the 2017 version.
In the statement read by Eliza Dahn of the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia, the CSO Working Group flagged out five critical issues and launched a robust advocacy, warning that if the version passed by the House in 2017 was not revisited and passed into law, it would have had the propensity to derail the entire land reform process for the last ten years and undermine the peace and development of the country.
Some of the areas in the law that were reviewed include Tribal Certificate (Article 47), Public land (Article 37), Protected Land (Article 42), Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the affected community (Article 33) and Gender Safeguards in the bill (Article 36).
On Tribal Certificate, the law mandates that a tribal certificate shall entitle the holder to one hundred percent of the developed portion of the land, while the undeveloped portion of a tribal certificate should be renegotiated between the tribal certificate holder and the community.