An open letter to the Ombudsman’s Office

Mr. Ombudsman,

Re: Improving capacity to carry out national Inquiries 

Less than fifty years after Independence the Human Rights Protection Party is seeking to seize control of all Samoan land, tax it and extinguish the ancestral title known as Customary land through a dishonest Customary Land Leasing Scheme.

No piece of legislation is more indicative of political corruption in modern Samoa than the Land Titles Registration Act 2008. Even though the Land Titles Registration Amendment Act 2015 No.46 clearly states that Customary Land is not to be registered under the LTRA 2008 it allows leases of Customary Land to be registered under the Torrens System alienating Customary Land from Aiga members unlawfully and unconstitutionally and transferring Sovereignty to the government.

Samoans settled Samoa thousands of years ago. Modern Samoans claim ownership of Samoa’s land and traditional resources through what is known as ancestral ownership.

In International Law this birthright is accepted and respected as a lawful claim because those who occupy the land have inherited their rights. This is the highest form of ownership and brings with it complete authority or sovereignty over land and traditional resources.

Sovereign owners do not have to fill out forms or please anybody else to control their land for their right is based on their bloodline.

In international Law this ancestral right of inheritance can only be set aside deliberately. In Samoa, we, as Samoans, have never given up our traditional rights of ownership over any of our lands and resources.

There has never been a meeting with any government or any foreign government with our traditional matai in which our people have been consulted and said to our leaders that we give up the land or any traditional resources given to us by our ancestors.

Each family member of the Aiga has rights to customary land ownership and resources which cannot be taken away without their consent. No government has the right to transfer or extinguish the ancestral rights of any Aiga member without their consent gained by a national referendum. 

It is forbidden to give those rights to any one person by law and end the rights of all Aiga members. No matter that foreigners see this ownership by members of the Aiga as a bar to progress. They must realize that in our land of Samoa we are sovereign.

Any plan for progress in Samoa which does not acknowledge the Matai and Aiga as sovereign and return the majority of profit to Aiga and preserve Samoan resources for future Aiga members is unacceptable to the majority of Samoans. We and our resources do not exist to please and profit foreigners.

Our duty is to steward our lands and resources for our Aiga and to preserve all of our resources for future Aiga generations. Any plan to profit others by taking land and resources from the Aiga owners is nothing more than theft.

All Samoan Customary land is owned by certain Aiga and other Samoans and foreigners have no right to plunder the resources of those Aiga.

Maua Faleauto

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