12 May 2008

NGOs in Samoa say they are being blocked from seeing latest version of land bill

7:35 pm on 12 May 2008

Samoa's umbrella group for non-government organsiations says it has been unfairly blocked from seeing new amendments to a controversial lands bill.

The government says the Land and Registration Bill 2007 improves registration and allows for better management in regard to leases of government and freehold land.

But a SUNGO committee says it is against the proposed legislation as it will change how traditional customary land titles are applied.

The government says the bill has been amended to exclude customary land, following advice from the Attorney General Aumua Ming Leung Wai.

But SUNGO's CEO Roina Vavatau says despite several requests, they've been told to wait until the bill is tabled.

"We asked for the amendments but they said it needs to be tabled in Parliament before its released publicly and that's a big concern. So the sad thing about this is the last, the third reading coming up and they are still deferring it back because we've already submitted a petition on the interpretation of the first bill. But they've said they've made amendments with our recommendations and our petition, but we're yet to see what they are - in black and white."

SUNGO's chief executive, Roina Vavatau.