LAND COMMISSION PRIOTIZES FOUR KEY ACTIVITIES

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The Land Commission was established by an act of the National Legislature in 2009, with a mandate to propose, advocate and coordinate reforms of land policy, laws and programs in Liberia.

Since its inception, the Land Commission has meticulously crafted appropriate policies and laws in a bid to championing the needed reforms in the crumbling Liberia land sector. These instruments include the Interim Guidelines and Procedures for the Sale of Public Land, the Land Rights Policy, the Act Against Criminal Conveyance of Land, the draft Land Rights Act, which is before the National
Legislature, and the draft Liberia Land Authority Act, are among gains made by the Commission so far.

Other policies being formulated and nearing completion include the Land Administration Policy, and the Land Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy. The Commission is gathering evidence that will inform the formulation of an Urban Land Use Management Policy.

However, while the Commission is making frantic efforts to accomplish these and many of its deliverables, there are challenges, which need to be addressed in order to enhance the smooth transition of the Land Commission to the institutional arrangement of the proposed new land agency, tentatively named, the Liberia Land Authority, prior to the expiration of the Commission’s extended tenure on January 9, 2016.

Against this backdrop, the Chairman of the Commission recently met with the technical staff of the Commission and urged them to strategically tackle key activities that are workable and achievable before the end of the Commission’s tenure.

According to Dr. Cecil T. O. Brandy priorities will focus on the completion and passage into law of the draft Liberia Land Authority Act, the passage into law of the Land Rights Act, and the finalization of the Land Administration Policy and the Land Dispute Resolution Policy. Achieving these will serve as the engine and bedrock to accelerate the anticipated transition of the Land Commission into the Liberia Land Authority.

The Liberia Land Authority Act seeks to establish an independent body of Government with primary responsibility for land governance, including land administration and management and would be operationally independent and generally free in pursuit of its mandate.

Dr. Brandy affirmed that the passage into Law of the Liberia Land Authority Act by members of the National Legislature is crucial in the transitional process, and is aimed at giving hope and acknowledgement to the gains made by the Land Commission; therefore, much attention is needed to ensure that the Legislature fast-track the passage of the Act into law when it is submitted by the Executive.

The Land Rights Act, now before the legislature for enactment, provides the legal basis for the enforcement of the Land Rights Policy of 2013, which created the four tenure rights categories of Private Land, Government Land, Public Land, and Customary Land.

This Act also confirms, declares and ensures equal access and equal protection with respect to land ownership, use and management, including ensuring that Customary Land is given protection equal to Private Land and that land ownership is permitted for all Liberians regardless of their identity, whether based on custom, ethnicity, tribe, language, gender or otherwise.

The Land Administration policy is another crucial policy document, which presents a framework for land administration in Liberia.

It focuses on the main features of good land administration and those pertaining to the identification, ownership, use, and valuation of land, including information on all lands, as well as the identification of land and the determination of rights to the land, recording of those rights, valuation of land and the management of government and public land, coordination of land use planning, the establishment of the institutional framework at central and local government levels to carry out this mandate, and the broader issues of governance, policy development, and legislative and regulatory reform necessary to attain government’s objectives.

When finalized, validated and adopted by the Government of Liberia, the Land Administration Policy will establish a new land administration framework and instructional structure for Liberia. Many of the policy recommendations contained in the Land Administration Policy will be implemented by the proposed new land agency.

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