OpEd, Politics

Urgent Need for a Land Registration Act in South Sudan: “Safeguarding Customary Land Rights and Mitigating Land-Related Conflicts”

By Gama Hassan Oscas

Absence of a comprehensive Land Registration Act in South Sudan has contributed significantly to land-related conflicts and poses substantial challenges to customary land ownership. The lack of clear legal frameworks and mechanisms for land registration has created an environment of uncertainty and disputes. This critical legal opinion will analyze the implications of not having a Land Registration Act in South Sudan, with a specific focus on its contribution to land-related conflicts and the necessity of such legislation in protecting customary land rights.

Escalation of Land-Related Conflicts: The absence of a Land Registration Act has contributed to the escalation of land-related conflicts in South Sudan. The lack of clear land titles and registration mechanisms has led to disputes over ownership, boundaries, and usage rights. Without a comprehensive legal framework, customary landowners face difficulties in defending their rights against encroachment and illegal land acquisitions. This situation exacerbates tensions, hampers development, and undermines social cohesion within communities.

Lack of Legal Certainty and Security: A Land Registration Act plays a crucial role in establishing legal certainty and security of land tenure. By providing a comprehensive system for land registration, the Act ensures that customary landowners can obtain formal recognition and documentation of their rights. This recognition grants them legal protection against unauthorized land transfers, encroachments, and other forms of dispossession. The absence of such legal safeguards leaves customary landowners vulnerable to land grabs and creates an environment of insecurity and mistrust.

Safeguarding Customary Land Rights: The enactment of a Land Registration Act is vital in safeguarding customary land rights in South Sudan. Customary land tenure systems are deeply rooted in the country’s cultural heritage, and millions of people depend on these lands for their livelihoods and sustenance. A Land Registration Act would provide a framework for the registration and documentation of customary land rights, ensuring their legal recognition and protection. This recognition empowers customary landowners, preserves their cultural heritage, and promotes sustainable land management practices.

Resolving Land Disputes and Enhancing Peaceful Coexistence: A Land Registration Act facilitates the resolution of land disputes by providing a legal mechanism for resolving conflicting claims. It establishes an evidentiary framework that enables the clear identification of parties involved, evidence of ownership, and accurate demarcation of boundaries. This clarity promotes fair and efficient conflict resolution processes, helping to reduce tensions, restore trust, and enhance peaceful coexistence within communities.

Investment and Economic Development:A Land Registration Act is essential for attracting investment and promoting economic development. Formal land registration provides potential investors with certainty and confidence in land transactions, which in turn stimulates economic activities. The Act also facilitates access to credit and investment opportunities for customary landowners, empowering them to leverage their land assets for economic growth and poverty alleviation.

Conclusion: South Sudan is in urgent need of a Land Registration Act to curb land-related conflicts and protect customary land rights. The absence of such legislation has contributed to escalating disputes, insecurity, and mistrust within communities. By enacting a comprehensive Land Registration Act, South Sudan can establish legal certainty, safeguard customary land rights, and promote peaceful coexistence. Additionally, the Act will facilitate investment, economic development, and the preservation of cultural heritage. It is imperative that South Sudan prioritizes the urgent legislation of a Land Registration Act to address these pressing issues and foster sustainable land governance.

The author of this article is an Advocate and can be reached at Email: oscarsgama@gmail.com

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