Proposed legislation on traditional governance and land reform take centre stage at major land summit

By Alfred Sasako

PROPOSED legislations on traditional governance and customary land reforms are expected to take centre stage at a major Land Summit being held in Auki later this month.

A team consisting of some of the nation’s top lawyers are being invited to give their views on the proposed legislations – the Draft Traditional Governance and Facilitation Bill and Customary Land Laws Reform Bill.

Subject to their acceptance, top lawyers Francis Waleanesia, Martin Haurii, Willy Hiuare and Watson Puiahi. Mr Waleanisia, the Legal Consultant to the Traditional Governance and Facilitation Bill, could be in Auki to address the first session on the opening day.

Legal Consultants Mr Haurii and Mr Hiuare are expected to address the second session by providing a Legal Analysis and Treatment of the Late Andrew Nori’s Land Law reform Report.

Mr Hiuare is expected to deliver a 40-minute paper on the Solomon Islands Customary Land Commission Bill. He is also expected to speak on the Land Trust Board Bill.

Land issues associated with lack of development on Malaita will be covered in the dicussion.

Foreign law on land alienation and dispossession “remain as fundamental causes for land disputes, disunity and corruptions in Solomon Islands,” an excerpt from one of the papers said.

“This country must fix these fundamental causes and details of fixing the laws of alienation and dispossession of customary land …,” the paper said.

The Traditional Governance and Facilitation bill aims at re-enforcing the existing work of the chiefs, tribes and individuals as the engine room of the customary land tenure system.

“Such work also involves innovations for social and cultural inclusivity, tolerance, respect and working for peaceful co-existence in Solomon Islands. This is a space for the indigenous people of Solomon Islands with innovations can blend old and modern governance systems in the country, the paper said.

On the other hand, the Solomon Islands Customary Land Commission Bill is intended to act as the powerhouse to confirm group title to customary land ownership and land boundaries set by chiefs and tribal owners under the Traditional Governance and Facilitation bill.

“This group title is not for commercial dealings, rather it is the mother group title that anchors and protects the land, people and their leadership based on their customary land tenure system.

“The Registry set up by the Commission would be the custodian and guardian for people’s records and information for the future developments. This Bill provides the space for the indigenous people to restore home-grown principles and practices of security, protection, participation and good governance in Solomon Islands.

“Because of the dispossession of the indigenous people and their customary land tenure system, the present Government believes in the interventions of the Traditional Governance and Facilitation Bill and Customary Land Laws Reform Bills.”

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