Thursday, May 09, 2013

Injustice in Samoa

Have a read of this sad sad story about a Samoan citizen who worked hard, paid taxes and in return, was wronged by MNRE (then Department of Lands Survey and Environment).
This is the Ombudsman's Report...I love reading his reports,...he cuts to the chase like no one's business.

It's a lengthy report but its an intriquing (if not worrying) read.

Here's the Ombudsman Recommendations

Recommendation


There are two wrongs from past actions of MNRE that need to be addressed. The oldest of these is the wrongful disposal of a valuable natural resource that should have been conserved. It is not possible to fully right this wrong. It is considered a reasonable responsibility for Government however to establish by proper study what can usefully be retrieved of the Fugalei mangrove swamp and to conserve it for future generations. Government could do this if it wishes by means of the Taking of Lands Act. It would naturally observe the requirements of the Constitution with regard to compensation for the bona fide owners of the lands involved.

The situation with regard to any land still in the possession of Theresa McCarthy may be different. She was after all not a purchaser for value as she was simply conveyed the land by the Public Trustee back in 1993. Mr Chan Tung‟s treatment at the hands of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has cost him a great deal in financial and human terms. No attempt will be made here to tally these things as the Ombudsman is not in the compensation business. Noting however the direct involvement of Government‟s agents in causing Mr Chan Tung‟s situation and woes, the Ombudsman would urge Government, with a view to contributing financially on an ex-gratia basis, to commit to a genuine conversation with Mr Chan Tung, the Development Bank and SLC as appropriate to deal with Mr Chan Tung‟s indebtedness to the Development Bank, and if possible and in a manner agreeable to all, to place him on a footing where he could begin again to be a productive person.

A way forward presents itself should Government choose to salvage the mangrove swamp and to purchase identified plots for that purpose by way of the Taking of Lands Act. The land owned and sub-divided by Mr Chan Tung in 2002 will undoubtedly be wanted for conservation. In the taking of lands exercise, fairness and everything else point to the rightness of treating Mr Chan Tung as if there were no problems with his ownership of the land and of paying him on an ex-gratia basis for the 4 acres he purchased and subdivided in 2002 and for which he holds the de-registered Deed of Conveyance.   I recommend as above.

Maiava Iulai Toma

Ombudsman

6 May 2013

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