Members of the International Land Coalition (ILC) in Africa and the Civil Society Coalition on Land (CICOL) have commended Ghana for its comprehensive Land Bill geared at addressing land reform concerns in the country.
They also commended government of Ghana for involving diverse stakeholders in the process of the Bill, and showing the willingness to build consensus on contentious land issues.
Mr Shadrack Omondi, Chair of ILC Steering Committee at a press briefing held on Friday at the end of a three-day Annual Conference and Regional Assembly meeting hosted by CICOL, said other African states should emulate the best practices embarked upon by Ghana in drafting the Land Bill where inclusivity, consultation and participation from diverse stakeholders had been applied and emphasized.
“This practice will not only ensure ownership by the stakeholders but be in line with the AU Guidelines on the land policy formulation processes. Indeed this fists into our ILC Arica slogan: Africa Land Forum: Time for Action Now: Connect, Mobilise and Influence”, Mr Mondi who read a declaration at the meeting said.
“Most African countries do not have even a land policy let alone a Land Bill”, Ms Lilian Bruce a member of the Steering Committee told the Ghana News Agency.
Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resource, who opened the forum on Monday announced that through the Land Administration Project, (LAP), Ghana’s Draft Land Bill had gone through the process of stakeholders’ consultation and was being formulated for Cabinet approval.
The forum which enabled participants to understand the intricacies of land rights, and governance issues within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was on the theme: “Promoting People-Centered Land Governance in the implementation of the post 2015 agenda: Challenges and Opportunities in Africa”.
Participants drawn from 21 countries, constituted of 61 organisations representing farmers organisations, indigenous people, pastoralists, civil society organisations, international organisations and intergovernmental institutions, attended the conference.
In a four point Declaration that emanated from the meeting, ILC and CICOL members urged Ghana to uphold the provisions of the Bill on Gender/spousal rights on land that would address gender disparities in spousal ownership of land.
It said the Land Bill should provide a framework for the application of the Free Prior and Informed Consent and detail the procedures on how consultations should be done.
It also called for the harmonization of the large scale land acquisition in order to safeguard and protect the interest of the smallholder farmers and the vulnerable groups against land-grabbers and speculators.
The communique urged the Government of Ghana to provide the mandatory establishment of Customary Land Secretariat in every traditional area to enhance transparency and accountability on land governance.
Meanwhile, ILC Africa has commended the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for giving “particular consideration to prosecuting Rome Statutes Crimes that are committed by means of, or that result in, inter alia, the destruction of environment, and the illegal exploitation of natural resources of the illegal dispossession of lands”.
By that order, any individual or organisations that would do anything to cause the destruction of land in any country could be reported to the International Criminal Court in Hague, in the Netherlands for prosecution.