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In the wake of looming conflicts over land in the country, a civil society working group said delay in the passage of the Land Right Bill is not in the interest of the Liberian people.

“We the members of the civil society working group on Land Rights Reform are deeply troubled by the delay in the passage of this bill,” the CSO working group said.
The group on May 22, 2017 a joint Committee of the Senate and the House on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment together with the Judiciary Committee, conducted a public hearing on the second draft of Liberia’s Land Rights Act.
Speaking Monday, June 12, 2017 at FAO headquarters in Monrovia, the group`s program officer, Constance Teage said lawyers, local and traditional leaders, women group leader, civil society organizations and government officials participated in that hearing.
“At the end of the hearing, there were strongly held opinions among some government officials and some of the legislature that the draft Land Rights Act should be subjected to further reviews and consultations, without a definite time frame in which this would happen.”
The group further indicated that it was even stated that if the 53rd legislature does not pass the bill, the 54th legislature would.
However, the traditional council, CSOs, some government agencies, women groups and even some legislature largely agreed that the core principles of the law are sound and reflects the desire of the Liberian people.
“We the members of the civil society working group on Land Rights Reform are deeply troubled by the delay in the passage of this bill; considering that for the past three years from July 2014 to present, this very same bill with the very same issues that were brought up at the May 22nd, 2017 public hearing, has been subjected to numerous reviews, debates and discussions; which resulted in a second revised Land Rights Act of September 27, 2016.
Madam Teage added that it is the group`s considered opinion that many of the issues raised at the hearing can be properly addressed when regulations are established after the bill is passed.
“Admittedly, there can never be a perfect bill. And therefore, further delay of the passage of this bill is not in the interest of the Liberian people,” she maintained.
The group also recalled that back in 2005 when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected president, she stated that there was a need to “revisit the land tenure system" in order to remove a potential source of dispute” Also, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Peace Consolidation Yacob El Hillo stated during the European Union, Land Rights for Liberia launch on March 14th, 2017 that “there is risk of returning to conflict if Liberia does not address certain critical issues. Chief among them is land.”
She further indicated that the National Legislature has now had the draft Land Rights Act for 3 years. The Land Rights Act for the first time in Liberia history will grant communities the right to own the land that they have occupied through the customary land category within the Land Rights Act.
“With this in mind we urge the law maker to honor the urgency for immediate action to reform the land tenure system of Liberia, and grant to all Liberians the opportunity and right to own land without discrimination,” she said in the statement.

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