Group Rejects Land Rights Bill Passage
-Due to Procedural Improprieties
By Anthony Selmah
The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working group on Land Reform in Liberia comprising of twenty eight (28) CSOs institutions working along with the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL), Women Land Task Force (WLTF), and Communities across Liberia has expressed serious concern over the land Rights Bill that was passed in 2017 by members of the 53rd House of Representatives.Addressing a news conference in Monrovia on Wednesday March 7, 2018 the chair on Women Land Rights Working Group on Land Reform Madam Lena T. Cummings expressed dissatisfaction over the version of the bill passed by the 53rd honorable House of Representatives in August 2017.
According to her, the bill undermines the land rights of ordinary Liberians, community residents, especially the vast majority of the populace who inhabits rural Liberia.
She added that: outstanding shortfalls range from contradictions, to omissions of important sub-articles thus sub standing weakening the security of customary land ownership, to insertion of new provisions, which directly contradict the spirit of the broader national land right policy and the constitution of the country.
The chair of the CSOs working group on land rights reform in Liberia further explained that some provisions of the August 2017 bill legitimize and validate tribal certificates and various other pre-existing property documents.
This is done without safeguards against bad faith transactions, fraud, historical procedural impropriety, or inaccuracy in the original surveys process, she said.
The CSOs Chair further stated that, the bill provides for the expropriation of 30% of customary land by the government from communities by conversion to public land without due process or justification.
According to her, they are deeply apprehensive that the passage of the bill in its current form will severely undermine peace, reconciliation, and inclusive development.
The group thus appeals to members of the senate as well as President Weah, to come in and make logical conclusions on this matter as it is vital to the growth and development of Liberia.
“We urge you all to move expeditiously and in a manner that protects the principles of land tenure security for all Liberians,” she emphasized.
She assured the group’s readiness to work with stakeholders to improve the bill, so that when it is passed into law, the land rights of all Liberians will be protected.