TLLLPIC 15 August 2009 DILI - The Government of East Timor is conducting public consultations on a draft land law that will regulate, amongst other things, community land in East Timor.
The draft has been criticised as inadequate to protect the land rights of customary communities in East Timor because it denies juridical status to the customary land tenure systems and the individualised customary land rights that are created in those systems.
Access to and the exploitation of community land will be decided by the Government and there is no clear provision on who obtains the benefits of any use of community land by outsiders - the government or the community itself.
Towards encouraging debate on the issue of customary land tenure systems, TLLLPIC is researching and compiling information on these land tenure systems in other countries as a comparative study source.
In the report below, some of the experience of customary land tenure in the Solomon Islands, where 80% of the land is customary land.
Solomon Times Online 25 August 2008 Customary Land Tenure System an Obstacle to Development - The Customary Land Tenure System is again seen as a constraint to the Government's National Rice Programme.
This was revealed when the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Hon. Selwyn Riumana delivered a statement on Rice prior to the passing of the 2008 Supplementary Bill.
Hon. Riumana said the CNURA Government is serious about addressing the production of rice however the land tenure system has delayed the smooth implementation of the programmes.
"Customary land, which make up 80 percent of our total land mass in this country remains outside the formal legal system and is recognized as one of the main constrains hindering rice cultivation," says Hon. Riumana.
He stated that to address this limitation; the government is working very closely with communities, farmers and the resource owners to find ways and means to grow rice.
"The determination of the CNURA Government to grow rice given the current soaring prices has enabled the Ministry to provide assistance to 14 participating communities, groups and villages," reveals Hon. Riumana.
The Leader of Opposition, Hon Manasseh Sogavare questioned Hon. Riumana on why the price of locally grown rice is still quite expensive.
In reply, Minister Riumana said the price of locally grown rice in the rural area is quite low and people who bought the products are happy with the cost.
80% of the Solomon Island's Land are customary owned, making it hard for the Government to make decisions on development.