Gender and Land Rights Database

Liberia

Land Legislation

 

Public  Lands  Law - Title 34 - Liberian Code of Laws Revised

- § 50. Drawing of land by immigrants.

On arrival in Liberia, every immigrant who shall have attained the age of twenty-one and who shall have filed a declaration of intention to become a citizen as provided in section 83 of the Aliens and Nationality Law, shall be entitled, if single, to draw from the public  lands  a town lot or ten acres of farm  land, and, if married, a town lot or twenty-five acres of farm land ; provided that a husband and wife shall be entitled to draw only a town lot or twenty-five acres of farm  land for both of them. Persons who have drawn land under the provisions of this section shall receive from the President as evidence of their right to the land a certificate specifying the number of the lot or parcel and the time when it was drawn.

- Section 50 does not specify whose name is to appear on the certificate.

- § 70. Leases to foreigners.

The President is hereby authorized to lease any portion of the public lands not appropriated for other purposes to any foreign individual, corporation, or company for engaging in agricultural, mercantile, or mining operations in Liberia. The term of any such lease shall not exceed fifty years, but the lessee may renew the lease for another term of fifty years upon such terms as the contracting parties may agree. The terms and conditions of any lease or renewal of a lease of public lands shall become effective only after ratification by the Legislature.

 

The Land Rights Bill, 2014

- A draft LRA has been sent to the legislature in 2014 and has yet to be adopted. It sets out a wide range of protections for customary land rights. If retained, these provisions will fulfil the promise of tenure security for customary land rights contained in Liberia’s Land Rights Policy.

- Article 2:

15. Customary Land: Means the land owned by a Community and used or managed in accordance with customary practices and norms, and which include, but is not limited to wetlands, communal forestlands, and fallow lands

16. Deed: Means a document which contains the size and location of a piece of land and by which ownership of the land described therein is transferred from the current owner to another person.

- 21. Fee Simple: Means an ownership of Private Land and Residential Area that endures until the current owner dies without any heirs, and which is alienable, inheritable and can be devised.

22. Equal Protection: Means (i) in respect of persons, the rights of all persons to enjoy and exercise all the freedoms and rights established by the Constitution of Liberia, this Act and other Liberian laws, irrespective of age, ethnic background, race, sex, creed, and place of origin or political opinion; and (ii) in respect of land, ensuring that Customary Land is given protection equal to Private Land.

- Article 9: Proof of Ownership or Rights in Land

1. The proof of ownership of a Private Land shall at all times be by way of a deed that (i) is duly probated and registered in keeping with the law controlling, and (ii) shows a proper chain of title from the original owner of the land.

2. The proof of any Government Land shall consist of demonstrated existence on the land of government buildings, projects, or activities including but not limited to offices of ministries, agencies and branches of the Government, military bases, public schools and public universities, public hospitals, Libraries, museums, and public airports for any period prior to the adoption of the Land Rights Policy of Liberia.

3. The proof of any Public Land shall consist of competent evidence of its acquisition by the

Government through purchase, escheat, confiscation gift or otherwise and the fact that it is not presently used for the present activities and/or operations of the Government and is neither a Private Land nor a Customary Land.

4. The proof of ownership of any Customary Land shall consist of any competent evidence including oral testimony showing a verifiable longstanding relationship and/or ties that the community claiming ownership of the particular Customary Land has had to the land, but under no circumstances shall the ownership of a particular piece of Customary Land be denied merely because of a failure to produce documentary evidence of title. The necessary proof required by this Section is only in respect of the claim of the particular community asserting ownership of the specific piece of Customary Land at the exclusion of all other communities.

5. Where proof of ownership of any land other than Customary Land is by a deed, the required chain of title shall be traced to some written consent duly given by the owners of the Customary Land from which the land being proven originated; provided that this subsection shall not be construed to invalidate any public land sale deed duly issued by the Republic of Liberia prior to the Effective Date of this Act.

- Article 16: Obligations of Private Ownership

Every owner of a Private Land is obliged to:

a. Register his or her ownership of the land with the relevant agency of the Government and to maintain up-to-date records of such ownership and registration;

[…]

- Article 21: Acquisition by Purchase from a Community

1. Private Land may be acquired by grant of a defined portion of a Customary Land to a Resident as a Residential Area; provided that the total area of Customary Land which may be acquired by or granted to a Resident shall not exceed one (1) acre.

2. Except as provided in Section (1) above, no Person shall purchase and/or hold as

Private Land any portion of Customary Land after ninety-nine (99) years as of the

Effective Date of this Act.

- Article 31: Tenancy by the Entirety

1. A tenancy by the entirety arises when a joint tenancy is created in two or more persons living together as husband and wife.

2. The right of survivorship exists in a tenancy by the entirety such that upon the death of one partner the other takes the entire land free of the participation of the heirs of the deceased partner. No tenant in a tenancy by the entirety may defeat the right of survivorship of the other tenant by conveyance, partition or testamentary disposition.

3. A tenancy by the entirety may be destroyed by divorce or by voluntary agreement of the couple.

- Article 32: Identification of Customary Lands

1. Customary Land is acquired and owned by a Community in accordance with customary practices and norms based on long period of occupancy and/or use.

2. The existence and ownership of Customary Land shall become enforceable as of the

Effective Date of this Act.

> This means that as soon as the Land Rights Bill passes into law, Customary Land rights will be automatically formalised and customary ownership will be legally protected.

- Article 34: Identification of Land-Owning Community

4. All Residents of a community are members of the community with equal rights to the Customary Land and participation in the use and management of the community's land, regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, disability and identity.

 

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography