‘Land Rights Crisis Looms’

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Land Authority Chair warns

Dr. Othello Brandy, chairman of the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), on Tuesday told a gathering of civil society organization (CSOs) that the country may likely go revert to serious crises if the Draft Land Rights Act is not passed by the current lawmakers before the end of their tenures.

“If the act is not passed, it means only a few people will continue to have rights over your land, including the right to say what they do and not do with the land, because the tribal title that you hold for your land does not give any legitimate ownership right to you,” Brandy warned.

“You have been forcibly removed from your land without any just compensation because you do not have any legal rights to protect you. “It is only this act that will give you that protection for economic development therefore, you have to fight with all your might to have passage of this act,” Brandy urged his audience.

“Old laws have never solved any land conflict in this country, it has only managed to allow people to exploit you,” the LLA chairman indicated, adding, “this is why it is necessary for the new land rights policy and other matters to be put into law that will guide land ownership and how you must use your land, how to keep it, and how to manage it.

“The old act has created bad feelings and has spoiled the peace of this land,” Brandy lamented.

He sounded the alarm during a one day forum under the theme: ‘Act Now and Act Fast to Ensure Land Rights for All.”

The forum was held at the YMCA in Monrovia and organized by the Rights and Rice Foundation (RRF) and the Civil Society Working Group.

The draft act’s primary concern is to ensure that communities have customary rights that will enable them to have legal titles to their lands, instead of the usual tribal titles.

“The community will have the right to use, manage and control the land in line with customary traditional practices and norms, meaning that they will decide what to do with their lands, and not anyone else, including the government,” the proposed Act notes.

“This is the opportunity you have to engage your lawmakers to make sure that the act is passed, because the next government will not have enough time to deal with the act like this one is doing,” the LLA chairman urged.

He said that the act will help control the sale of customary lands until after 919 years, “so that the land will be reserved for the future generation but, it can be used and leased.”

He also claimed that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has initiated a major reform for the act, but the problem is that she put people in positions who have failed to implement its policies.

“She has given me the opportunity to correct historical injustices in the land reform sectors, which is not an easy job, but we all can ensure that we accomplish it for the benefit of our people,” Brandy disclosed.

In separate remarks, Ali Kaba of the Sustainable Development initiative (SDI) and James Yarsiah of Rights and Rice Foundation (RRF) reminded the gathering that they should be ready, because they were going to engage their lawmakers for the passage of the act.

“This is no more time to joke and wait because we are about to see a change in government and we should all double our efforts to have the passage of the act at all cost,” Yarsiah admonished.

Kaba informed the forum that a peaceful protest at the legislature would be staged to appeal for the passage of the act, but he did not state when that would happen.

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