Thursday, January 20, 2022

When Will Land Disputes Be Addressed???


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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.

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In the last editions we indicated that Section 192 of the Constitution states that “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 and the Commission established, but it is yet to be functional.

Farmers’ Eye Column called on the Executive to make this Commission functional, to address the series of land disputes in the country, highlighted as a major constraint of Agriculture which is key to production. Land disputes are on the increase particularly at this time of the year, when the rain season is in full gear.

In the last edition, we started dealing with the delivery of services. In this edition, we shall continue with the rest.

States and other parties should consider additional measures to support vulnerable or marginalized groups who could not otherwise access administrative and judicial services. These measures should include legal support, such as affordable legal aid, and may also include the provision of services of paralegals or para-surveyors, and mobile services for remote communities and mobile indigenous peoples.

States should encourage implementing agencies and judicial authorities to foster a culture based on service and ethical behavior. Agencies and judicial authorities should seek regular feedback, such as through surveys and focus groups, to raise standards and improve delivery of services, to meet expectations, and to satisfy new needs.

They should publish performance standards and report regularly on results. Users should have means of addressing complaints either within the implementing agency, such as by administrative review, or externally, such as by an independent review or through an ombudsman.

Relevant professional associations for services related to tenure should develop, publicize and monitor the implementation of high levels of ethical behavior. Public and private sector parties should adhere to applicable ethical standards, and be subject to disciplinary action in case of violations. Where such associations do not exist, States should ensure an environment conducive to their establishment.

States and non-state actors should endeavor to prevent corruption with regard to tenure rights. States should do so particularly through consultation and participation, rule of law, transparency and accountability.

States should adopt and enforce anti-corruption measures including applying checks and balances, limiting the arbitrary use of power, addressing conflicts of interest and adopting clear rules and regulations.

States should provide for the administrative and/or judicial review of decisions of implementing agencies. Staff working on the administration of tenure should be held accountable for their actions.

They should be provided with the means of conducting their duties effectively. They should be protected against interference in their duties and from retaliation for reporting acts of corruption.

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