Lawsuit filed against Govt. over land law

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The legal challenge is being brought by the Samoa Solidarity International Group Global (S.I.G.G.), which yesterday filed a lawsuit against the Government.

The legal challenge is being brought by the Samoa Solidarity International Group Global (S.I.G.G.), which yesterday filed a lawsuit against the Government. (Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer)

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s administration will be challenged in Court over the “legality” and the “constitutionality” of the Land Titles Registration Act (L.T.R.A) 2008.

The legal challenge is being brought by the Samoa Solidarity International Group Global (S.I.G.G.), which yesterday filed a lawsuit against the Government.

The Group has appointed Josefina Fuimaono-Sapolu as their lead Lawyer. 

Ms. Fuimaono-Sapolu filed the Statement of Claim and Motion for a Declaratory Order yesterday, 17 August 2018.

The lawsuit was formerly later in a statement issued by S.S.I.G.

“The Samoa Solidarity International Group Global has through its local branch of S.S.I.G Global Samoa, Inc. hired the Sapolu Law Firm to file its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of sections of the L.T.R.A. 2008 law which allows the registration of customary land leases and which when passed required the registration of all customary lands of Samoa in violation of Articles 102 and 109 of the Samoa Constitution, among others,” the statement reads.

The Article 102 in question reads:

“No alienation of customary land – It shall not be lawful or competent for any person to make any alienation or disposition of customary land or of any interest in customary land, whether by way of sale, mortgage or otherwise howsoever, nor shall customary land or any interest therein be capable of being taken in execution or be assets for the payment of the debts of any person on his decease or insolvency:

Unasa and Josefina Fuimaono-Sapolu.
Unasa and Josefina Fuimaono-Sapolu.

Provided that an Act of Parliament may authorise –

(a) The granting of a lease or licence of any customary land or of any interest therein;

 (b) The taking of any customary land or any interest therein for public purposes.”

S.S.I.G, along with other critics of the law, believe this clause of the law carries the potential to alienate customary land.

“Samoa has long endured this violation of it’s Constitution under a false representation that this law did not violate the Constitution which prohibited alienation of customary land,” the statement from S.S.I.G. reads. 

“The Government of Samoa has perpetrated this falsehood intentionally and deliberately with prior knowledge that such a law would in fact result in the unlawful transfer of customary land ownership from the extended family to a minority of the family members without the consent and proper compensation of the members of the family, who as a result of this unconstitutional law have been unduly and arbitrarily deprived of their ownership rights which registration of customary land causes.”

It was not possible to immediately get a comment from the Office of the Attorney General last night.

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