29 Jul 2013

Land title appeal in American Samoa struck down

7:07 am on 29 July 2013

The Lands and Titles Court in American Samoa has ruled the registration of the Tafuna lowland rainforest by the Haleck family as individually-owned land was not proper, and therefore should be disregarded.

The court denied a request from businessman Avamua Dave Haleck to reconsider an earlier ruling enjoining Avamua and the Haleck family from developing 26-acres of the Tafuna lowland rainforest.

That decision by the court said the rainforest is undeveloped bush land and cannot be registered as 'individually owned' because that refers to land that is cleared, cultivated and occupied, the hallmarks of human settlement.

Avamua contends the decision deprived him and his family of ownership of their land without due process.

In its latest decision, the court said Avamua is put on notice that in order to claim ownership to virgin bush land, a Samoan must first clear, cultivate and continuously occupy the land.

The court said based on the evidence, the land was never substantially cleared or continuously occupied.