Hundreds gather in Samoa to protest about land rights

Hundreds of people gathered on Samoa‘s biggest island on Saturday to protest the abuse of customary land rights.

A spokesperson for the Samoa Solidarity International Group said 700 people came from across Savai‘i to push for a repeal of the Lands and Titles Registration Act 2008.

According to Unasa Iuni Sapolu, the act allows communally held customary lands to be leased to third parties without the consent of all landowners.

She said this alienated some of the owners from their land and the opportunities it offered.

Unasa argued that the government should take heed of the strong showing at the protest at the port town of Salelologa.

“They were protesting against the ignoring by the government of the rights of those who own customary land and they are being dictated to and they‘re not happy with what the government is doing,” she said.

Unasa Iuni Sapolu said that a further act currently before parliament would allow those who have leases on customary land to use the land to raise mortgages. She described his as going against Samoa‘s constitution.

Unasa said Samoa Solidarity International Group will continue to raise awareness about the alienation of customary land rights.