www.fijilive.com - 18 JULY 2008
Customary laws regarding land should be incorporated into the legal system so the economic viability of landowning units in Fiji can be considered.The suggestion has come from Fiji Law society president Isireli Fa at the society’s annual convention at the Westin Resort, Denarau.Fa started the convention proper with a case study on Fiji’s customary land law and the problems surrounding the land issue in Fiji.He said the problems faced in terms of settling land issues and making decisions regarding land can be traced back to the Deed of Cession and the failure of those in power to define and regulate land issues.Fa said first problem to be looked at is the customary laws and how they can be incorporated into the legal system.He suggests that regulation be drafted to govern the issue of communal ownership of land and to find out who has what say in deciding how the land is to be used. The Suva lawyer says an inability to do this led to conflict within landowning units.Fa said the issue of land had now become an economic matter with the newer generations pressing for more investment and usage of land. He added that this issue within the chiefly system has been taboo.“There is now a greater need for customary laws to be recognised because this will be the first step in solving the greatest disputed issue in Fiji,” he said.Panellist Dr Ganesh Chand questioned which customary law was to be recognised, taking into consideration the racial and ethnic composition of Fiji. He said there would always be differences on the issue.Another panellist Ro Filipe Tuisawau said customary law and native land should be left to the indigenous community because they were the true owners of land in Fiji.