Land Disputes

This column is devoted to monitor and report on issues that relate to production, processing, preservation and marketing of agricultural produce aimed at ensuring food security in the Gambia as well as the interventions of Government and Non-governmental Organizations in this regard.

Agriculture remains both a new and old source of national revenue and (youth) employment.

Improved public awareness and discussion of the issues involved will significantly maximize agricultural outcomes and the contribution of the sector to economic growth and job creation.

This is precisely the reason why Farmers’ Eye is critically looking at every Agricultural programme or policy to gauge whether our Agriculture and Natural resources are properly harnessed, to ensure food self-sufficiency.

In the last editions we indicated that Section 192 of the Constitution states: “there shall be established a Lands Commission whose composition, functions and powers shall be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”

This Act has already been passed and assented to, but the Commission is yet be functional.

Farmers’ Eye Column called on the Executive to make this Commission functional, to address the series of land disputes that is on the increased particularly at this time of the year, when farmers across the country are preparing their farmlands in readiness for the start of the rainy season.

We dealt with rights and responsibilities related to land tenure in the last edition. In this edition, we shall continue from where we stopped.

RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES RELATED TO LAND TENURE

Given that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests should not only take into account rights that are directly linked to access and use of land, fisheries and forests, but also all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. In doing so, States should respect and protect the civil and political rights of defenders of human rights, including the human rights of peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists and rural workers, and should observe their human rights obligations when dealing with individuals and associations acting in defence of land, fisheries and forests.

States should provide access through impartial and competent judicial and administrative bodies to timely, affordable and effective means of resolving disputes over tenure rights, including alternative means of resolving such disputes, and should provide effective remedies, which may include a right of appeal, as appropriate.

Such remedies should be promptly enforced and may include restitution, indemnity, compensation and reparation.

States should strive to ensure that vulnerable and marginalized persons have access to such means, in line with paragraphs 6.6 and 21.6. States should ensure that any person whose human rights are violated in the context of tenure has access to such means of dispute resolution and remedies.

States should welcome and facilitate the participation of users of land, fisheries and forests in order to be fully involved in a participatory process of tenure governance, inter alia, formulation and implementation of policy and law and decisions on territorial development, as appropriate to the roles of State and non-state actors, and in line with national law and legislation.

POLICY, LEGAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORKS RELATED TO TENURE

States should provide and maintain policy, legal and organizational frameworks that promote responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests. These frameworks are dependent on, and are supported by, broader reforms to the legal system, public service and judicial authorities.

States should ensure that policy, legal and organizational frameworks for tenure governance are consistent with their existing obligations under national and international law, and with due regard to voluntary commitments under applicable regional and international instruments.

Source: Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure. Courtesy of FAO and CFS.

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