09 July 2017

Timor's parliament approves land and property regime

WARNING MACHINE TRANSLATION ORIGINAL AT http://observador.pt/2017/02/06/parlamento-de-timor-aprova-regime-de-titularidade-de-terras-e-propriedades/

The Observer 6/2/2017, 7:38  The Timorese National Parliament unanimously approved, in the specialty and in the final overall vote, the draft law on the "special regime on the ownership of immovable property".

The East Timorese parliament approved unanimously, in the specialty and in the final global vote, the proposal of law of the "special regime on the ownership of immovable property", a diploma considered essential for the economic development of the country. "It is very important that this legislation has been adopted," Justice Minister Ivo Valente told Lusa after the vote, which was present in the final debate in plenary.

"It is fundamental for the future of the country and our citizens. It is a sign that we are making progress in terms of the development of the country, because we have a rule that will guide us to find some solutions to some of the disputes that exist on the ground, "he said. The text approved Monday, in its final version, was the subject of almost 30 proposals for amendments in committee of the specialty, in an intense debate between the representatives of the parliamentary benches.

Several elements of the bill had sparked some controversy among parliamentary representation forces, especially around issues such as ownership of secondary rights to land and property. Approval of the law, which will now be referred to the President of the Republic for promulgation, is the final step after several attempts to pass a land and property law.

A complicated process given the complex nature of the impact of the various systems in the country: customary and traditional law, Portuguese colonial administration, Indonesian occupation, UN transitional administration and post-independence period. A first decree was vetoed in March 2012 by the then President of the Republic, José Ramos-Horta, who alleged a lack of consensus among civil society regarding some of the envisaged solutions. In mid-2016 the current diploma was passed in plenary in general and the debate in the specialty has been accelerated in recent weeks to be able to approve the diploma before the end of the legislature - legislative elections are planned for July.

The text considers that "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 previous rights validly acquired "during previous administrations", and created the figure of "informal property rights, with a view to correcting the injustices practiced before the independence of Timor-Leste, due to the lack of formalization of rights ".

"This informal property right corresponds to a traditional and individual right to land, allowing those who have not previously obtained documents regarding their property rights to be able to invoke them, on the same terms as those who previously had their rights formalized. In this field, this law operates the formalization of these rights through its registration, "he explains.

Access to land is guaranteed in two ways: "on the one hand, through the creation of the National Land Registry, allowing the emergence of a secure and transparent real estate market; On the other hand, through the clarification of the assets belonging to the domain of the State ". It also provides criteria for the resolution of disputes and the principle of compensation where there is "duplicity of rights". The law also recognizes community ownership and creates the picture of community protection zones, aspects that will be further elaborated in later legislation.

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