07 November 2013

Baukau Communities "surrender" 10h of land to the State for Portuguese school

ETLJB07 November 2013 - The Dili Weekly reported on Monday (4/11) that communities in three villages in the District of Baukau have handed over 10 hectares of land to the State for the construction of a Portuguese reference

The three villages are Wailili, Buibau and Tirilolo.

The Baucau District Administrator Antonio A. Ximenes was reported by The Dili Weekly as saying “That’s a commitment of the community and their contribution to local development, that it’s time to develop their country and birthplace.”

According to further reported comments by the District Administrator, "this set a good example, as some in the community live on state land but when the state needs the land they don’t have the conscience to leave. They ask for money from the state,” Administrator Ximenes said.

The report also included a statement from Member of Parliament Ilda Maria da Concecao said she really appreciated the initiative of the community in the three villages, who handed over land to the state for development.

On the other hand, a student from the Faculty of Law at Dili University (UNDIL) Stefanus Fernandes called on communities handing over land to the state to do it with a complete land certificate "so the grandchildren don’t claim the land and create problems in the future.”

There is some uncertainty about the exact juridical status of the land. Some of the reported observations seem to assert that the land was state land unlawfully occupied by the communities while the law student's comment seems to imply that it was land that might be considered not as State land but as communal land to which future descendants of the communities might assert customary land rights.

ETLJB has previously highlighted the tension between the assertion of the State to land over which communal land tenure systems have existed since time immemorial, the lack of juridical recognition of communal land tenure systems, the lack of just compensation laws regulating the taking or "surrendering" of communal land to the State for public purposes (for example, see the linked posts below).

In other cases of the acquisition of communal land for State purposes, the bargaining process has been unequal because of the lack of certification of communal land ownership and unjust, if any, compensation for the communities whose land has been taken by the State. Under the Indonesian land law system, communal land tenure systems had no legal status or protection and the taking of that land by the State led to conflicts, bloodshed, social dislocation and the disruption of traditional social structures. As there is no land law system that has effectively replaced the Indonesian laws, the position of communities whose land is wanted by the State is no different than what it was under the Indonesian occupation and, prior to that, the Portuguese imperialists.

Source: The Dili Weekly Monday, 04 November 2013 (Original article written by Venidora Oliveira) This post, while drawing on TDW news item, was written by Warren L. Wright BA LLB former Property Rights Adviser to UNTAET, UNCHS (Habitat) Consultant, Senior Legal Officer, New South Wales Land Titles Office, International Land Law Adviser to the Indonesian Land Administration Project (Phase 1), Land Registration Adviser to the Bangladesh Modernisation of Land Records Project and Solicitor at the New South Wales Aboriginal Legal Service.

Government takes land on Atauro Island to establish military security posts
Community Land in East Timor: Compensation for Acquisition for Public Purposes
Government and Community celebrate agreement on land use for Suai Supply Base
Community land in East Timor - A New Tragedy of the Commons?
Negative Impact of Draft Land Law on Customary Land Tenure Systems in East Timor

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