The Civil Society Working Group on Land Reform has called on the National Legislature to speedily pass the draft land rights act, and has made recommendations geared toward improving the current draft.
Delivering the statement on behalf of the Working Group on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, Madam Florence M. Dorley-Konneh of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of land, Forest and Fisheries (VGGT) Secretariat, touched on many issues that are key to making the proposed law work for local communities. The group stated that protecting customary land is the most important component in the Draft Act, while pointing out that the customary land category is new and therefore vulnerable to commercial interests and elite land grab. In regards to the Public Land category of the draft act, the group said that given the history of public land use and management in Liberia, any attempt to designate areas as Public Land without the consultation and informed consent of communities (customary rights holders) will likely undermine the core values, principles, and legal protection on Customary Land as entrenched in the Land Rights Policy. “Also, any process that would allow government officials to arbitrarily draw boundary lines on communities’ land will likely see a continuation of the high incidence of boundary conflicts that have recently characterized concession zones throughout the country,” the statement alarmed.