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-Foresees Efforts Undermined
The Civil Society Working Group on Land Right Reform has predicted that tempering with certain provisions in the Land Right Act (LRA) will undermine peace, reconciliation, and development in the years to come.

Giving update on the Draft Land Rights Act Revision process Tuesday at the office of Search for Common Ground in Monrovia, Constance Teage, community land right protection manager said to avoid this, the working group requests the 53rd legislature to protect the integrity of the Land right Act, particularly to guide against conflict prone intrusions in the granting of tribal certificate, management of customary land and customary land and protected area.
“There are provisions in the Land Right Act if tempered with will defeat not only the fundamental purpose of land reform but it will also undermine peace, reconciliation, and development in years to come,” Teage stressed.
Though it remains unclear as to which group that has attempted to undermine the process, Teage emphasized that the working group will strongly protest any blanket legitimization of tribal certificates.
“While we realize that the issue of tribal certificate deserves more dialogues and consultations with stakeholders, particularly local communities, we would suggest adding more opportunities to self-identify and setup a management committee before we start familiarizing tribal certificates,” she added.
The community land right protection manager indicated that if this is not done, the working group is afraid that if all tribal certificates are automatically recognized as legal documentation for land, this will severely undermine private tenure rights and customary land rights of communities.
Commenting also on the management of customary land, Teage pointed out that similarly, any attempt to place customary land under the central government management will be undermining not only the rights of communities, but the principles of the land rights policy and land reform process in general.
Noting also customary land and protected area, Teage added that by formally recognizing customary land rights as equal law to private land rights, any attempt to make protected areas a category of land rights or a part of government land, such would fundamentally undermine the spirit and intent of the Land Right Policy and by extension the Land Rights Act.
“Based on the above, the working group believes that if the provisions in the document are not properly addressed to ensure the protection of the customary rights of citizens, this could lead to an increase in the rate of contentious relations between different actors within the society, especially within and between communities and other land users,” group warned Liberians to be aware.
She added that while the CSOs Working Group will continue to participate in land reforms in the country, and supports the passage of the LRA, they remain vigilant regarding the provisions in the document.
“We remain vigilant with regard to these provisions and maintain the right to insist that no changes being made in the current draft law should undermine the customary land rights of Liberians. Civil Society Organizations will continue to support an inclusive and transparent land law, and work to assure the accountability of the government to its people.”
She also noted that it is important to remind the Liberian people that while widespread violence has been kept in check, reports of small-scale violence over land continues, and dissatisfaction with government land policy have and it continues to exacerbate land tension, as a result the perpetual for larger-scale violence remains a serious potential threat.
The Civil Society Working Group on Land Right Reforms in collaboration with the National Civil Society Council of Liberia has been actively advocating land reform in particular the protection of customary land rights since 2009.
Through mutual understanding and collective efforts, the working group has provided meaningful inputs into the various land reform policy documents, including participating in two public hearings organized as support to the national legislature.
The working group has also served as a medium to raise awareness around land reforms and the LRA, organizing forums between communities and relevant stakeholders, policymakers, traditional chiefs, community-based organizations.

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