18 June 2017

Timor parliament approves land ownership system and property

NB: Machine Translation of report in http://observador.pt/2017/02/06/parlamento-de-timor-aprova-regime-de-titularidade-de-terras-e-propriedades/

 The Timorese National Parliament approved on Monday unanimously in the art and in the final overall vote, the bill of "special regime on the ownership of real property", a diploma considered essential to the economic development of the country. "It is very important that this legislation has been approved," he told Lusa, after the vote, the Justice Minister Ivo Valente, who was present at the final debate in plenary.

"It is critical for the future of the country and our citizens. It is a sign that we are making a breakthrough in the country 's development, because then we have a standard that will guide us to find some solutions to some disputes that exist on the ground, "he said. The text approved on Monday in its final version was the target of almost 30 amendments in committee specialty, an intense debate between the representatives of the parliamentary groups.

Several elements of the bill had raised some controversy between the forces represented in parliament, particularly around aspects such as the ownership of secondary rights to land and property. The approval of the law, which will now be sent to the President for promulgation, is the final step after several attempts to pass a law to land and property.

A complicated process given the complex nature of the impact of the various systems in the country: customary and traditional law, the Portuguese colonial administration, the Indonesian occupation, the UN transitional administration and the post-independence period. A first degree was vetoed in March 2012 by the then President of the Republic, José Ramos-Horta, who claimed lack of consensus of civil society for some possible remedies. In mid-2016 the current legislation was approved in plenary in general having the debate on the details been accelerated in recent weeks in order to approve the legislation before the end of the legislature - are scheduled parliamentary elections for July.

The text considers the "regularization of ownership of real property" is "fundamental to ensure peace and social and economic development of the country" with solutions. Among the solutions is the recognition of prior rights validly acquired "during previous administrations," still creating the figure of the "informal property rights, in order to correct the injustices practiced before the independence of East Timor, due to lack of rights formalization ".

"This informal property rights corresponds to a traditional and individual right to land, allowing those who previously have not received documents for their property rights can now rely on the same terms of those who previously had their formal rights. In this field, this law operates the formalization of these rights through registration, "he explains.

Access to land is guaranteed in two ways: "on the one hand by creating the National Property Register, is allowing the emergence of a secure and transparent real estate market; On the other hand, by clarifying the property belonging to the state domain. " It also provides criteria for the resolution of disputes and the principle of compensation if any "rights of duplicity." The law also recognizes community ownership and creates the figure of community protection zones, aspects that will be deepened in subsequent legislation.

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