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Civil society body holds dialogue on land rights in Unity State

February 20, 2024 (BENTIU) – A public discourse on community land rights and legal land acquisition concluded in the Unity State capital, Bentiu on Tuesday.

The one-day dialogue organized by the Civil Society Coalition on Natural Resources (CSCNR), attracted members of state transitional legislative assembly, chiefs, civil society organizations, leaders of people with disabilities (PWD), internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, youth as well as women.

Moses Gizam, who doubles as the CSNR Programme Officer and Executive Director of Humanity & Community Empowerment Organization (HCEO) said land is the most precious resource that keeps appreciating in value over time.

“Being a God-given natural resource, all inhabitants of land in the state and country have equal and inalienable rights to own it without disputes,” he said.

According to Section 7 (1) of the Southern Sudan Land Act 2009, All land in South Sudan is owned by the people of South Sudan and its usage shall be regulated by the government. On the other hand, Section 8 (1) of the Act stipulated that “Every person shall have the right to acquire or own property as regulated by law and as stipulated in Article 32 (1) of the Constitution”.

Gizam said land rights of vulnerable members of communities remains at stake.

“We call upon the state Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and the survey Department to ensure effective and integrity-driven land allocation to minimize land related disputes in the state,” he stressed, calling for special consideration for the protections of the land rights of vulnerable members of the society such as women, widows, PWDs, returnees as well as the girl-child.

The activist urged lawmakers to disseminate messages of legal land acquisition and equal land rights to the civil population in their respective constituencies.

For his part, however, David Jany Yak, a lawmaker representing Koch County in Unity State assembly lauded CSCNR and their partners for having organized such an important sermon for people of Unity State in the different categories.

According to the MP, the engagement was key since it brought together the government, youth, women, vulnerable groups and other stakeholders.

“It is important to enlighten our people on the issues related to land rights and land related disputes, including the importance of legal land occupation and acquisition. For us in the Government, I think we need to redouble our efforts in order to have all lands registered in Unity State, and to conduct proper survey to guarantee the land rights of all the vulnerable people,” he explained.

The lawmaker urged CSCNR to continue with their advocacy to empower people to know their rights and to support the vulnerable groups on land issues.

Peter Chuong Duoth, Secretary General of Unity State Disable Union (USDU), said the workshop awakened people, especially those with special needs.

“We have gained knowledge and we now know that everybody within the society to have land regardless to disability or whatever barrier,” said Duoth.

He appealed to all the CSOs to continue supporting all the minority groups especially vulnerable people so that they can also advocate for their rights.

A total of 40 participants, including chiefs, civil society organizations, leaders of persons with disabilities, internally displaced persons, returnees, youth and women attended the event supported by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).

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