The continued delay by lawmakers to pass into law the 2014 Land Rights Bill, which calls for the protection of community land, among other things, has claimed the attention of two civil society groups, the Community Forest Management Body (CFMB) and the Community Forestry Development Committee (CFDC), who believe that if the law is passed, it will drastically decrease land-related conflicts the nation is currently experiencing.
However, since the bill was submitted to the legislature, the CSOs say it has been silent despite support from President Ellen John Sirleaf, foreign partners, and civil society organizations (CSOs).
Due to this prolonged delay, the two organizations in a joint statement issued yesterday said although the legislators have passed into law the Land Authority Act, which they termed as an important step in the land reform process, the delay in passing the Land Rights Bill, however, remains a major concern that needs to be quickly addressed.
The statement also said although the draft Land Rights Act represents the Liberian people's desire to own and manage land, it "has not happened due to the culture of silence on the bill, despite the almost three years of consultation among stakeholders.
"Once communities are given ownership of their customary land, the CFMB and CFDC would have gained more strength and authority to advocate for social benefits owed to communities by concession holders. These benefits will go a long way in helping to develop our educational and health care systems and contribute towards developing our local economies," they said.