Land tribunal planned for French Polynesia
French Polynesia is a step closer to establishing a new land tribunal after talks in Paris between its Lands Minister and the French Overseas Minister.
French Polynesia is a step closer to establishing a land tribunal after talks in Paris between its Lands Minister and the French Overseas Minister.
The publisher of the Tahiti-Pacifique monthly, Alex Du Prel, told Jenny Meyer land ownership issues in the territory are historical and complex, and if the tribunal goes ahead the constitution may need to be modified.
ALEX DU PREL: Well the problem is this is like the monster of Loch Ness you know it keeps coming out of the water once in a while and back and the thing has been discussed since 1984 with the new status of French Polynesia at the time. So our Minister went to Paris and talked to the lady who is in charge of French justice and the Minister of Justice in France and she said 'yes' she might be favourable. The problem is that all the laws that have to do with justice that apply in French Polynesia, are French laws. So they would have to go through a modification of the Constitution and so on and so on.
JENNY MEYER: I understand that historically land issues were under an 1880 treaty said to be always Tahitian run issues, that would be conducted by the people of Tahiti?
ADP: Yeah that was in 1880 when Pomare signed over his land like he says when he 'made a donation to France' actually it was so France could wipe out his debts, and the treaty says that all real estate matters must be taken care of by Tahitian courts. This was to prevent foreigners from acquiring land. The council they changed it and then slowly applied French laws which ended up in the mess we have over here because we have split ownerships, sometimes you have 200 or 300 members of a family that owns the same piece of land. This mess with Tahitian lands has been going on for the past hundred years and it's never been solved. Many times it's never been solved because certain people abuse the system to take land for themselves.
JM: If in the future this new land tribunal is set up do you think it will open the flood gates for people trying to resolve some of these disputes?
ADP: I personally guess these disputes are mostly within families and everything. If you look on the island of Tahiti today most of the land, the big land or estates belong to the families where the fathers were European and the mothers were Tahitians. These people knew what the law said and could do, why, they were in French, while the population was speaking Tahitian. They kind of figured everything. And we see it today, if you go around Tahiti you see all the people who are aware of what the law says, like public servants or otherwise, own all the beachfront land, while the Tahitian population has stayed at the bottom of the valleys.
Alex Du Prel says nobody has been appointed to the tribunal yet and no date given for the body to be set up but he says it is likely to be funded by France.
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