12 November 2008

US Ambassador and Minister of Justice Launch USAID East Timor Land Law Project

6 November 2008 - At a ceremony in Manatuto on November 6, Ambassador Hans Klemm and Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato launched the national land data collection project which will be piloted in Manatuto and Liquica to make use of data collection procedures and digital land surveying technologies for the first time in Timor-Leste. The project is supported by the Timor-Leste Ministry of Justice and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Ita Nia Rai (Our Land)/Strengthening Property Rights project, a five-year, $10 million project providing technical and policy support to the National Directorate for Land, Property and Cadastral Services (DNTPSC).

During the ceremony, the Minister of Justice noted that "we are taking an important step in the history of this nation, because for the first time, all people will be able to record information about their land. Collecting and organizing this information is a key step towards creating a land administration system, which will guarantee people's rights to land in the future."

Ambassador Klemm presented uniforms to community members trained as data collectors by the project, and underscored: "Only after property rights are established can there be a lasting stability and prosperity in Timor-Leste. By helping Timor-Leste build a new land administration system, the U.S. is helping to bring stability and prosperity to the Timorese people."

DNTPSC Director Antonio Verdial de Sousa closed the event by stating: "I would like to thank the Government of the United States of America for their support in helping us develop our land administration system. Land rights are recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a fundamental right for all people," and added that the program would be expanded to other areas in the near future, and encouraged all Timorese to participate peacefully in the process.

Image: Former Director of the East Timor National Directorate of Land and Property, Mr Pedro de Sousa Xavier (a known Fretilin supporter), who was dismissed from his position by the Justice Minister, Lucia Lobato, soon after the AMP government assumed office.

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