P.M. slams ‘bush lawyers’ over customary land claims

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Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielgaoi

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielgaoi has reminded that the Torrens Land System is embedded in Samoa via the Land Registration Act 2008.

In doing so, he insists that the Torren’s Land System “has no legal effect on customary land ownership, as it applies only to free hold land.”

 “I have been informed that certain bush lawyers are again accusing government of alienating customary lands using the Torren System as a front,” Tuilaepa said.

“But I want to reassure our people that this is fundamentally flawed because the Torrens System of Land Ownership is explicitly designed for free hold land and has no effect or diminishes rights to Customary Lands."

“But the critics who do not understand the law and who think they are lawyers appear either confused or refuse to accept the fact that Customary lands and the Torren System have no relationship, whatsoever.”

According to the Prime Minister, all rights and claims over Customary Land remain intact pursuant to Article 102 of the Constitution.

 “The Torrens System is created to protect ownership of free hold land, and not have any effect on customary land ownership,” added Tuilaepa citing the Land Registration Act 2008 Section 9 (4) and (5).

The section that the Prime Minister is referring says; 

(4) No provision of this (Land Registration) Act may be construed or applied to:

(a) permit or imply the alienation of customary land in a manner prohibited by Article 102 of the Constitution; or

(b) Permit or deem ownership in any customary land to vest in a person otherwise than as determined under any law dealing with the determination of title to customary land.

And how did the Prime Minister know so much about the Land Registration Act?

“I have been thoroughly briefed by the Attorney General,” he said.

“My hope is that for the wanna be lawyers to at least understand the law before publicly calling a referendum based on their uneducated arguments which is a poor reflection of their competence.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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