EXCHANGE-WORKSHOP ON OWNERSHIP, SUSTAINABILITY OF THE COMMUNAL LAND SERVICE OFFICE AND THE LEGAL VALUE OF THE LAND CERTIFICATE

As land is essentially the source of survival for more than 90% of Burundians, it is often the cause of endless conflicts within communities. One of the most effective ways of preventing and fighting against these conflicts is securing land property by registering them within the authorized land service offices. The communal land service has now become the most decentralized domain and means of land security. The Burundian law shows the importance of land ownership registration especially articles in the 19th of February 2020 law in its 55th  article where it is clearly stipulated on how and how much the establishment of a communal head- staff, including the head of the land office is a necessity. . That being said, it is hard to say whether the legal value of the land certificate is understood and interpreted in the same way by the communal administration and by the judicial entities to which the population resorts when land disputes arise within communities.

With regard to this, APDH organized this Wednesday, December 16 an exchange-workshop for some communal administrators and judges of the Courts of different judiciary entinties from its area of intervention: amongst which, communes of the provinces of Kayanza (Kabarore, Matongo , Gatara and Kayanza), Kirundo (Ntega and Kirundo), Ngozi (Ngozi, Busiga and Nyamurenza) and Muyinga (Gashoho). The discussions focused on the following points: how to ensure land ownership and sustainability of the land service office by communes themselves and how to value the land certificate issued by the very offices according to the prescriptions of the law.

Since the national land commission is the state body responsible for monitoring and controlling the quality of communal land services, one of the technical assistants was invited to facilitate the workshop.

Using laws, decrees and ministerial orders related to the establishment and management of communal land service offices and after a brief presentation of the establishment of communal land services at the national level, he insisted a lot on the need to understand what the discussion is about and implies. He clearly stated that the communal land service office is by law a necessity for every commune, that communes should create a communal land service office and should take ownership of it and value and help other people value the communal land certificate issued by the commune since it is important and its value ought to be understood during the legal resolution of conflicts related to land.

Why local administration and grassroots judicial bodies?

The communal land service office issues a land certificate which proves the right of ownership, the latter allows the holder to exercise all legal freedoms related to real rights provided for by the current Burundian legislation and these established acts are opposable to third parties.

This legal value of a land certificate conferred on it by the land code and its application texts is often doomed to be questionable according to various interpretations.

Since the idea of ​​its creation, the communal land service office has issued certificates to the population who want to certify their land ownership, but when land conflicts arise, few administrative agents and those of the judicial authorities seem not to be well acquainted with knowledge about the laws, decrees and ministerial orders in related to the creation and management of the communal land service office. With this exchange-workshop, participants were able to better understand the legal value of the land certificate in order to better apply the law when land conflicts arise especially when defendants have with them a land ownership certificate as proof of the ownership. They were also able to understand the role of each and everyone (communal administrator who signs the land certificate and the judicial bodies which are called to decide in the event of land disputes) when the population uses the land certificate as proof of land ownership. As for the local administrative authorities, they are called to understand that the communal land service office is one of the communal services like so many others and not that of the partners to better take ownership of it and manage it for good to the benefit of the people they are called to serve.

Before closing, participants had time to ask questions and contribute to the exchange for integrated participation and understanding.


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