South Sudan's proposed Land Bill will deny Sudanese ownership of their own land by granting foreigners 99 year leases
Proposed Land Bill Creates Controversy
A southern Sudanese lawyer is calling for the land bill, which was recently given its third reading in the southern Sudan Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, to be rejected.See Sudan Watch 10 January 2009: Former Wall Street banker Philippe Heilberg gambles on a warlord's continuing control of 400,000 hectares of land in South Sudan
Lawyer and former GOSS Under-secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Dr William Kon Bior, told journalists in Juba that the bill will deny Sudanese ownership of their own land by granting foreigners 99 year leases.
[William Kon Bior]: “The Assembly is only interested in the bill. They don’t know who drafted it and for what purpose. One example is, a new idea has been introduced into the bill that a foreigner could own land for 99 years but traditionally the land use is limited to that particular use. If that use finishes with 20 years the land goes back to the community but now when you give away land for 99 years almost like you are actually alienating land from the very community which is supposed to own it.”
Dr Bior said that he has done research in 13 communities regarding land and he believes the views of the communities have not been incorporated into the land bill.
He also questioned the constitutionality of the bill.
In response, the deputy chairman of the southern Sudan Land Commission, Wilson Kiri, said the views of Dr Bior were merely his personal opinion.
[Wilson Kiri]: “His remark is there but for us in the Land Commission, it is timely for us to present this land bill and he has his own view. But our view is that the land law should go ahead.”
The Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly representative from Yei, Martin Aligo Abe, said the land bill is needed to protect the rights of citizens.
[Martin Aligo Abe]: “We demanded the law. There are a lot of problems to do with land, for example, the grabbing that he is talking about. Without law you cannot protect. If we were to stay within the interim period without addressing the land issue what would have happened? You would find that the whole place has been grabbed and there is no protection and the weak ones would have actually lost their land.”
If the legislation is passed and signed by the president, the bill could become law early next year.