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Samoans petition to uphold the protection of customary land rights Featured

There was a heavy police presence in Apia as about 200 people turned out to protest against land laws. A land rights protest in Apia last year. Photo: RNZI / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia There was a heavy police presence in Apia as about 200 people turned out to protest against land laws. A land rights protest in Apia last year. Photo: RNZI / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

12 January, 2017. Samoans around the world are to petition the government to uphold the protection of customary land rights.

The Samoa Observer reported members of the Samoan Solidarity International Group will present the petition when parliament opens on the 23rd of this month.

Group member Unasa Iuni Sapolu says they want the 2008 Lands and Titles Act to be repealed.

Unasa says many of their concerns surround the Torrens system of registry of land titles which is enabled under the Act but which they say is contrary to traditional Samoan land rights.

There was a heavy police presence in Apia as people turned out to protest against land laws.

Unasa says Torrens systems have "wrecked indigenous land ownership in other countries".

She says the group will work on educating people about the pitfalls of the system and how it could be used to secure loans and mortgages which risk the sanctity of customary land.

Torrens title is a system of land registration, in which a register of land holdings maintained by the state guarantees an indefeasible title to those included in the register.

Land ownership is transferred through registration of title instead of using deeds. Its main purpose is to simplify land transactions and to certify to the ownership of an absolute title to realty.

-RNZI

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