Celebrating Land Rights Law
By John L. Momoh
That the Land Rights law has finally been enacted into law by the Liberian Senate of the National Legislature, is indeed a landmark achievement that should be a cause for jubilation, especially given that since the founding of Liberia in 1822, the issue of who owns the land has always been a contentious issue.The passage of the Land Rights Act or law by the senate last month in deed paves the way for Liberia’s speedy attainment of the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals, as giving land rights to people especially women is a formidable weapon to fight poverty and accelerate national economic growth and individual progress.
According to Stanley Toe the Executive Director of the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), credit for the passage of the land rights law can also be given to ex-President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Counselor Nimbande Warner who formed the previous Land Commission and approved and presented the draft to the National Legislature where it was passed and sent to the Liberian Senate after rigorous scrutiny.
The LLA equally acknowledged and extended appreciation and thanks to all stakeholders including international donors, the media and civil society and those who facilitated the issuance of tribal certificates as well as the government of President George Manneh Weah.
The Land Rights law spells out who should own the land in Liberia, defines the categories of land ownership including government and public land, private land and customary land while minerals below the land including water belongs to government.
The benefits to be derived from the land rights law to the nation and individuals are many, including the establishment of land management committees in the various communities in case legal issues arise, assures women empowerment and ownership of land, facilitates the demarcation of lands, ensures judicial transparency in land registration and probation on the basis of international best practice and standards.
One of the best components of the law is that it will serve to prevent land disputes and conflicts as, as it is illustrated in the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement that the Liberian civil war was partly provoked by land conflicts.
The Act will immensely contribute to economic growth in Liberia as banks will now have confidence to accept land as collateral for the granting of loans, something that was in the past risky to do before the passage of the law.
The NEW LIBERIA newspaper joins the band-wagon in the celebrations over the passage of this all important land rights law, as the transparent acquisition, disposal and transfer of land in the country is a roadmap for national development.
We hope that government and the donor community will continue to render full support to the Land Authority which has the regulatory authority for the implementation of the law. This will include the empowerment of the courts to fast-track land related cases that in the past take several years before verdict can be rendered.