3 Apr 2003

Vanuatu lands tribunal faces opposition

4:02 pm on 3 April 2003

Vanuatu's newly introduced lands tribunal or village court whose task it is to resolve custom land disputes has hit opposition, after men who have settled in their wives' villages refused to support the idea.

In the latest example, a custom chief of Eratap Village in Efate has appealed to the police for help after men from other islands attacked a primary school forcing it to close.

And a man is said to have been injured in a protest against the ruling of the local village court.

The main task of the court is to identify the true custom landowner in each village based on the history of each tribe.

The problem has arisen because men from other islands and their male children who are regarded as outsiders can no longer claim customary ownership of land in their wives' villages.

Chief Andrew Kalpoelep says an amendment needs to be made to the lands tribunal act to define where the married men fit.