National, News

Gov’t to review Land Act

By Bida Elly David

 

Undersecretary in the National Ministry of Land, Housing, and Urban Development, Louis Kuoth, said they will review the South Sudan Land Act in a bid to address pressing land issues on land across the country.

He spoke on Wednesday to the media in an interview on the sidelines of a multi-stakeholder engagement meeting organized by FAO.

The engagement focused on the all-important issue of how women’s rights can be guaranteed within the land tenure system. It was to validate the sustainable development goal of the United Nations indicator 5A2, which looks at the rights of women in the legal framework of the Republic of South Sudan.

“We are going to review the land act and the existing regulations and give them to the state so that what governs the land is unified in states across South Sudan,” said Kuoth.

He acknowledged that South Sudan still has difficulties addressing issues of customary laws over the process of owning land, particularly for women in society.

“Some customs do not give full rights to women as required by some international documents,” he noted.

The undersecretary stressed that the land policy as a regulatory document would have settled some of the difficulties the country faces in the fight for land ownership.

Kuoth affirmed that a sample of the land policy has been developed, approved by the executive, and submitted to parliament in December last year.

“This document, the land policy, is now awaiting deliberation and enactment; this document stipulates the rights of women to inherit properties and to have control over land,” he underscored.

Mr. Kuoth stated that the ministry of land, in collaboration with other government institutions, is trying to bridge the legal gap over land rights inequality.

“We are trying with the Ministry of Gender, child, and social welfare to bridge the gap between the statutory framework and the customary framework of land ownership,” he stated.

Moreover, he emphasized that they have considered the prioritization of public awareness on land matters.

“Awareness is very important so that people understand what is contained in the policy, laws, and regulations,” he emphasized.

The official stated that women, according to the constitution, have a full mandate without segregation to own land.

“Women are treated equally like men; our constitution is very clear on that, where there is no segregation in the ownership of land, and the land act also stipulates clearly the rights of women, including the land policy, which is currently in the process of enactment,” he added.

The undersecretary further stated that they are also going to develop a family law aimed at looking into matters concerning women’s deprivation at the customary level.

“We will develop it and try to harmonize it to what is in the legal, formal land policies and land act with what is acceptable with the customary practices,” he stated.

Last month, legal expert Cosmas Juma, a deputy registrar of land at the Judiciary of South Sudan, expressed worries over the system of land allocation in the country, saying the justice system is very weak to tackle land issues.

He attributed issues of rampant land grabbing to an improper system of justice in the country, saying there must be improvements to the law, particularly the Land Act.

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