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Samoa Govt. accused in customary land fight

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi. [SN file photo]]
Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s government has been accused of stalling the progress of an investigation into a complaint by a group of matai fighting to stop government-initiated projects they claim will “alienate customary lands.”

The group’s spokesperson, Fiu Mataese Elisara, of Sili, told the Samoa Observer that the government has taken almost a year to comply with the decision of the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B) Compliance Review Panel (C.R.P) that the complaint is valid and should be investigated.

This has left the group extremely disappointed. Fiu is joined by Lilomaiava Dr. Ken Lameta, of Vaimoso, Telei’ai Dr. Sapa Saifaleupolu, of Samatau, and Leuluaiali’i Tasi Malifa

In their initial complaint, the group raised alarm about the “individualization, financialization and alienation of customary land.” 

Their concerns arose as a result of an A.D.B Technical Assistance (T.A) initiative for Samoa to “Promote the Economic Use of Customary Lands”. 

They argued that the project had been carried without meaningful consultation across Samoa. According to the group, under a series of projects called Promoting Economic Use of Customary Land, the A.D.B has driven land and financial sector reforms in Samoa to make it easier to lease customary land and to use those leases as collateral for loans.

It was not possible to obtain a comment from the government yesterday. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi is on a book tour in New Zealand.

But years after the complaint was lodged through A.D.B, Fiu said they are sad about the government’s stalling tactics.

Read more at Samoa Observer