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Lands Department hosts peer review workshop to finalize Bougainville Land Bills

The Department of Lands Physical Planning, Environment and Conservation (DLPPEC) has commenced the Peer Review Workshop this week in Arawa to evaluate the four draft Land Bills for Bougainville.

The Peer Review workshop, scheduled for three days, involves a panel of select experts, including academics, law reform lawyers, and experienced land practitioners from both government and the private sector. This esteemed panel has been convened to review and provide recommendations for improvement on the Bills, including the Customary Land Bill, Government Land Bill, Registers Bill and the Planning & Development Bill.

This Review is a closed session specifically designed to focus on the practical and implementable legal aspects of the proposed laws. The comprehensive review by the expert panel will play a pivotal role in shaping the final versions of these Bills.

Secretary for the Department of Lands, Lynnette Baratai-Pokas says, once the feedback from the expert panel has been carefully analyzed by the combined technical team of the Department of Justice & Legal Services (DJLS) and DLPPEC, suggestions for improvement that align with the ABG Lands Policy 2021 will be incorporated into the Bills.

She further explained that while this Review is a closed session, the public will be given the opportunity to comment on the draft Land Bills after the Peer Review is complete.

“Following this crucial phase, the final versions of the Bills will embark on a Regional Roadshow at the end of October 2023. The purpose of the Roadshow is to consult with the four regions of Bougainville, namely Atolls, North, Central, and South. This Roadshow signifies the culmination of an extensive eleven-year consultation process for Bougainville's land law,” she said.

"We are committed to ensuring that the governance mechanisms for our critical resource of land are robust, equitable, and reflective of the collective voices of Bougainvilleans.”

All Bougainvilleans are encouraged to attend their respective regional forums during the Roadshow to gain a comprehensive understanding of the proposed legislation and to provide their invaluable feedback on the content of the Bills.

“My Department remains dedicated to facilitating a transparent and inclusive process that respects the unique cultural and land-related needs of Bougainville's communities,” Secretary Baratai-Pokas said.

This engagement will be the final opportunity for Bougainvilleans to have their voices heard before the Bills are presented to the Bougainville House of Representatives at the end of this year.

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