The National – Monday, December 20, 2010
By DUNCAN WILLIS
SINCE the 2005 land summit, significant actions have taken place including strengthening the laws relating to incorporated land groups (ILGs) and voluntary customary land registration.
According to deputy secretary of the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC) Isaiah Chillion, one of the main principles of the reform that will be implemented is to “stop of sale of customary land”.
He told the Ahi festival/Riback Stevedores land reform presentation at the Lae International Hotel last week that there was unnecessary fear among people that their land would be taken away from them if they registered it.
“The government is here to protect you and it has given you this opportunity for using the land to benefit your clan which is ‘the stop of sale’ so that land can only be leased and the title of the land will still belong to the clan,” he told Ahi clan leaders.
Registrar of PNG Civil Registration Betty Billy also said people in the country were becoming spectators in their own land because of the sale of land.
“When you own the land the title will be with you but if you sell it away you will lose it, which is why we are stressing the need for birth registration and family trees to be drawn up in order to register land,” she said.
Billy said many of the sales of customary land in the country were not agreed to by the whole clan but by “one or two people”, adding that next year, there will be a joint community-based training for birth and death registration.
National Research Institute researcher Katherine Gware told the leaders that everyone was affected by the changes, one of which is land that they are built upon.
“We have to take ownership of land dealings so that land benefits the whole clan and not just one person and the only way is for land to be leased instead of sold in the new land reform,” she said
Mary Fairo from the CLRC, highlighted that more than 80% of land in the country was customary, so in the case of ILGs, every person in the clan was required to register.