What is the H.R.P.P. hiding from people about customary land?

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Dear Editor,

Sala Josephine Stowers is wrong in law and hiding facts from the people of Samoa.

The senior lawyer has rejected any customary land threat stating that the customary land lease is under Article 1 and 2 of the Constitution, which protects the rights of the Samoan people to their customary lands.

In an article published in the Samoa Observer today, she says,

 “This is the only article of the Constitution that states, it cannot be removed or changed by the 2/3 majority of parliament. It has to go out to a public referendum for public vote during a general election.”

“Only then that part of the Constitution can be changed, otherwise our rights are protected under the law.”

 “The Constitution is a strong provision. It’s not saying that customary land can be purchased because it cannot be sold, it’s prohibited under article one and two.”

“That really goes to show the positive foresight of our forefathers, to ensure whatever happens in the future, customary lands remain as customary lands and the rights of the family to the land are strongly entrenched in the Constitution.”

“At the end of the day, government has no rights over customary lands.”

Unfortunately for Sala almost everything she says is wrong:

Firstly an official investigation found that the A.D.B failed to consult the Samoan public before pushing harmful land reforms. 

The Asian Development Bank Compliance Review Panel found that A.D.B recommended piecemeal changes to customary land laws leading to uncertainty and an abridgement of some customary land rights. The diminution of the bundle of rights associated with customary land ownership, which resulted from A.D.Bs advice, the Panel found, was likely to cause direct and material harm to the complainants and project affected people.

So traditional landowners rights have already been damaged and this would likely cause direct and material harm to the Aiga of Samoa. This damage is caused by S.32 of the Land Titles Registration Act 2008.

Yet she says nothing about this factual finding.

Secondly, Articles 1 and 2 make no mention of customary land leases:

1. Name and description

 (1) The Independent State of Western Samoa (hereinafter referred to as Western Samoa) shall be free and sovereign.

 (2) Western Samoa shall comprise the islands of Upolu, Savai’i, Manöno and Apolima in the South Pacific Ocean, together with all other islands adjacent thereto and lying between the 13th and 15th degrees of south latitude and the 171st and 173rd degrees of longitude west of Greenwich:

2. The Supreme Law

 (1) This Constitution shall be the supreme law of Western Samoa.

 (2) Any existing law and any law passed after the date of coming into force of this Constitution which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

It may be that Sala made a mistake and was referring to Articles 101 & 102.

In 1960 our Constitutional forefathers made the following supreme laws:

Article 101:

All land in Samoa is customary land, freehold land or public land.

Article 102:

No alienation of customary land...whether by way of sale, mortgage or otherwise howsoever..or taken...for the payment of debt

 

HOWEVER

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.

Article 109. Amendment of Constitution -

 (1) Any of the provisions of this Constitution may be amended or repealed by Act, and new provisions may be inserted in this Constitution by Act, if a bill for any such purpose is supported at its third reading by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total number of Members of Parliament (including vacancies) and if not fewer than 90 days elapse between the second and third readings of that bill:

PROVIDED THAT no bill amending, repealing or adding to the provisions of Article 102 or the provisions of this proviso shall be submitted to the Head of State for assent until it has been submitted to a poll of the electors on the rolls for the territorial constituencies established under the provisions of Article 44 and unless it has been supported by two-thirds of the valid votes cast in such a poll. (2) A certificate under the hand of the Speaker that a bill has been passed under the provisions of clause (1) shall be conclusive and shall not be questioned in any Court.

 

Conclusion:

In order to pass a law that changes the status of customary land so as to alienate it or takes away the rights of customary land owners:

it [must be] submitted to a poll of the electors on the rolls for the territorial constituencies established under the provisions of Article 44 and [be] supported by two-thirds of the valid votes cast in such a poll. 

SO IF THERE IS NO REFERENDUM THERE CAN BE NO TAKING AWAY OF CUSTOMARY LAND RIGHTS OR CONVERTING IT INTO FREEHOLD LAND.

What are the H.R.P.P and Sala hiding from the good people of Samoa?

Faced with the need to hold a National Referendum in order to mobilize and securitize (break up and use in the credit -debt process) Samoa’s Customary Land, the H.R.P.P decided that it would likely lose the confidence of the majority of citizens leading to its defeat in an election.

A decision was made to look for a way to take control of all Customary Land without alarming the people. The process would have to be achieved through law changes and a propaganda campaign due to the fact that there exist Samoans well aware of the use of laws to steal land from native peoples worldwide. This theft has a formal name: Internal Colonization.

The tool used to break up Customary Land would be the registration of land or a lease using the Torrens System introduced in the form of the Land Titles Registration Act 2008 and precisely through registration under S.32 of the Land Titles Registration Act 2008.

The Land Titles Registration Act 2008 is unconstitutional and unlawful as it alienates or destroys the customary land status of any land registered stealing the ancestral rights of all Aiga and passes absolute ownership and control to the HRPP government.

The strategy used would be funded by Overseas bankers, would appear to reward Samoans who used it through a bribe, would at the same time attempt to convince overseas Samoans, who were propping up the economy with as much as $500 million tala a year, that their rights were preserved yet would in fact produce ongoing money for the HRPP government forever and a day in the form of tax.

All Customary Land would become Freehold Land as each piece of land was registered under S.32 of the Land Titles Registration Act 2008.

The simple act of registration would:

1) Bribe local Aiga members by saying that if they registered a lease over as much Customary Land as they could, then that land would be their land in their name with a Certificate of Title to prove it,

2) Destroy all the Aiga Land Rights over that land for any other family members whose names did not appear on the Certificate of Title including all relatives living in Samoa or overseas.

What family members who registered leases over Customary Land were not told:

1) That ultimate control of every piece of land registered and absolute ownership is transferred to the HRPP State. (A transfer of Sovereignty)

2) Those who registered the leases would receive a lesser land interest called a Freehold Estate.

3) That they agreed by registering to pay tax on that Freehold Land as set by the HRPP State, whenever it asked for it and

4) That the person named on the Certificate of Title has to follow government orders in the way they used that land.

Sala has completely ignored all of this pretending that leasing your land right now will be good for your family when it is the worst thing an Aiga can do.

 

FSM Taua 

fsmtaua@gmail.com

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