The chairperson of the Constitutional Review Committee or CRC, Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, has urged lawmakers here to speedily pass the Land Rights Act, currently before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Land.
Speaking during a recent program at the Monrovia City Hall, Cllr. Scott said the Land Rights Act is part of recommendations gathered from citizens across the country for amendments in the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, stressing that if passed into law, it would help to foster peace and reconciliation.
She noted that citizens would not cultivate large farms if they fear the next government will claim their land for concession purposes. She made the call during a two-day workshop recently on the National Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) of Land, Fisheries and Forestry organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Government of Liberia.
The program, which is the second of its kind, was held under the theme, “Communicating Tenure Rights, Improving Tenure Governance.” She added that the land tenure rights are important instruments that could enhance food security and stressed the need for more awareness on land tenure rights to ensure it is enacted into law.
The CRC boss said a speedy approach is eagerly needed to ensure that disagreements surrounding land ownership here is remedied. For his part, Joseph Boiwu, the Food and Agriculture Organization Assistant Representative to Liberia, said billions of people across the world depend on land access.
He therefore encouraged citizens to take advantage of the land rights tenure, which will protect them against any form of land dispute, indicating that with massive awareness, the act will be passed.
Boiwu said the FAO looks forward to passage of relevant laws on the Land Rights Act for smooth implementation.
Liberia’s Land Commission chair, Dr. Cecil O. Brandy, in opening remarks said the aim of the Voluntary Guidelines is to serve as a reference in improving governance of land, fisheries and forestry with the goal of achieving food security in Liberia and to support progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.
Dr. Brandy encouraged Liberians, including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to advocate and galvanize efforts to ensure citizens are protected.
Also making remarks, Ali Kaba, Program Director for Sustainable Development Institute, said that 35 to 50 percent of lands in the country are not protected. He indicated that since 1947 the Liberian government believes that if an individual’s land is not registered, it automatically means that person doesn’t own the land so it becomes public property.
He stressed that without land security, there would be no food security in Liberia, saying, “If you don’t have land security, that means you have nothing.
By Ethel A. Tweh– Edited by Jonathan Browne