The Land Rights Act submitted to the National Legislature by President Sirleaf in resolving the land conflicts in Liberia has been sent back to Committee room.
The Senate decision was in reaction to a report from the Joint Committees on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment and Judiciary, Claims, Human Rights and Petitions, advising the Plenary to approve the enactment of the Bill, with the indicated amended provisions. Interpreting the summary of the report yesterday during a regular Tuesday session at the Capitol Building, the Committee Chairman on Judiciary, Human Rights Claims and Petition, Grand Kru County Senator Albert Chie noted that the passage of the proposed Act will help protect lands in the country. During debate session, many of the senators argued that so much powers were given to the government over private land owners, and as such said document be sent back to Committee room for amendments; while others argued that the document was not clear on what could be private land owners’ percentage when minerals are found beneath their properties. “The act of government owning minerals under the ground of a private land owner is a bad law. We should not give so much power to the government over the private owner of lands. Land is important for economic and social development, let’s not rush with anything,” Senator Sherman noted. The proposed Act recognizes four categories of lands ownership, namely: Government land, Public land, customary land and private land. Senator Tonola of Margibi County pleaded with his colleagues for a public awareness to be made before the passage of the proposed act. The senators voted unanimously after a motion made by Grand Bassa Senator Jonathon Kappeh stating that the document should be sent back to Committee room for more vetting. The Plenary of the Senate in recent time mandated two of its committees to evaluate the proposed land rights submitted to the Lower House in 2014 by President Sirleaf. On August 10 2015, the joint committee conducted its first public hearing with stakeholders, Government Ministries and Agencies, community rights advocates, privates land developers and consultants, lawyers, and the consortium of civil society. The main objective of the public hearing was to gather expert opinions, statement, and comments on the Land Rights Act (LRA).