Sierra Leone News: Green Scenery holds conference on Land Rights
Civil Society Organisations and local authorities across the country on Monday started a two -day conference on land rights and land tenure system in Sierra Leone.
The conference organised by Green Scenery, provides a platform for policy makers, local authorities, civil society organisations, land owners, land users, Ministries, Department and Agencies of Government to interface and share ideas that will be collated and presented to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) for possible inclusion in the reviewed constitution of the country.
The Chairman of the National Commission for Democratisation, Abu Bakar Kargbo (Dr.) described the conference as “timely and appropriate” noting that it also provides a window for sensitizing the public especially at a time when debates on land issues and land rights are becoming a hot political potation the country.
Dr. Kargbo said land ownership is a prestige in African setting and suggested “a regime” that will ensure equitable access to land by citizens, stressing that whether it is for sale or for lease, any new land policy should take into consideration the needs and wants of the people.
He noted that proper land administration will alleviate poverty in the country, stating that in achieving such a feat, a new land policy should contain legal frameworks that guarantee securities on land tenure and land transfers and natural resources.
He stated that government should make provisions for community lands that will be occupied, used and managed by the community for cultural, spiritual and livelihood activities to be managed and governed by customary institutions in accordance with customary laws.
The National Coordinator for the National Advocacy Coalition on the Extractives (NACE), Cecilia Mattia on behalf of CSOs in the country submitted that a precise clause that safeguards land in the interest of citizens be included in the revised constitution.
Madam Mattia added that unstructured acquisition of land without due diligence to agriculture is a threat to the livelihood of citizens. She stated that CSOs are concerned about on-going tensions between land owning families, state actors and multinational corporations emanating from unfair land lease agreements and damages occasioned to the environment and cultural heritages.
She said that more needs to be done to finalise draft policies and laws as well as to create structures that will ensure the benefit of land for all.
By Keifa M. Jaward
Wednesday June 25, 2014