8 Jun 2020

Samoa AG says no alienation of customary land in proposed bills

1:10 pm on 8 June 2020

Samoa's three controversial bills currently undergoing public consultation, do not make any references to alienation of customary land, according to the Attorney General's office.

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Photo: 123RF

The office made the statement in response to media comments by the former head of state, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.

Tui Atua said the purpose of the bills was for the government to sell land to pay for overseas debts and other infrastructure developments.

However the Attorney-General's office said Article 102 of the Constitution provided that it was unlawful to make any alienation or disposition of customary land or interest in customary land.

"The only exemption to this rule as provided in the proviso of this Article is where an Act of Parliament allows for the granting of lease or license of any customary land or interest therein or the taking of customary land or any interest therein for public purposes", the statement said.

The office said the intention of the bills was to strengthen Samoan customs and usage through the elevation of the Lands and Titles court in the Constitution, and to improve its structure and autonomy by making it a Constitutional court.