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Liberia

Transparency in the Land Authority (LR0033)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Liberia Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Governance Commission, the Legislature, LACC, LRC, and MOFA

Support Institution(s): MICAT, LEITI, Carter Center, SDI, Parley

Policy Areas

E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Land Rights & Spatial Planning, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information, Social Accountability

IRM Review

IRM Report: Liberia Implementation Report 2017-2019, Liberia Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: No

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Public Accountability , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?: Land issues have been a critical driver of Liberia’s conflicts and significant issues remain in terms of land ownership, land rights, concessions and land management. Ensuring accountable land management is an essential part of making people in power in Liberia more accountable and transparent. The public is largely not aware of land ownership rights, concession rights orabout land management issues; and equally, the Land Authority is unable to provide information to citizens about these issues in ways they are able to understand. What is the commitment?: The commitment, a continuation from the 2nd NAP, will make information around land ownership and use more open to the public both on and offline. It will also provide a mechanism for citizens to resolve land disputes through the Land Authority.; How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem? The commitment will radically improve transparency of land related documents and information, opening up a process of data-driven decision-making around land that will increase the fairness and accountability of projects in the land sector.; Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?: Land rights and information are central to a host of OGP values including transparency, citizen participation and anti-corruption.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

7. Improve Transparency in the Land Authority

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

"The commitment, a continuation from the 2nd NAP, will make information around land ownership and use more open to the public both on and offline. It will also provide a mechanism for citizens to resolve land disputes through the Land Authority.

The commitment will radically improve transparency of land related documents and information, opening up a process of data-driven decision-making around land that will increase the fairness and accountability of projects in the land sector."

Milestones:

  1. Make publicly available data on land rights (such as data/locations on land legally owned by private citizens or communities) produced by the government on the NBC platform;
  2. Make land deeds and certificates available to the public through the Land Authority;
  3. Produce hard copies of data collected and developed through the LEITI and SIMS and distribute these hard copies to relevant communities across Liberia as the basis for discussion;
  4. Ensure the Land Authority makes information available related to land and resource governance (including policies, laws, guides for how to register property, updates on government activities and details including GPS coordinates of indigenous and community land ownership information) on its website and in hard copies;
  5. Create a standing mechanism through which citizens can seek redress for land rights abuses within the Land Authority.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Liberia's action plan at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/liberia-action-plan-2017-2019/

IRM Design Report Assessment

IRM Implementation Report Assessment

● Verifiable: Yes

● Relevant: Yes

Access to Information

Public Accountability

● Potential impact: Moderate

Completion: Substantial

Did it Open Government? Major

This commitment aimed to provide crucial and timely information on land distribution and related laws, and provide guidance on how the public can exercise their land rights. It also sought to create a mechanism to expedite citizens' access to justice on land disputes. [70] Its overall goal was to improve Liberia's land rights, use, management, and accountability.

At the time of this commitment's formulation, land disputes were increasingly violent, with legal cases burdening the courts. [71] In 2017, the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) began operations, and the Land Rights Act (LRA) was under legislative review. [72] The Liberian Parliament passed the LRA in September 2018, and it became law in October 2018. [73]

The LRA outlaws discrimination in land ownership and equally recognizes private and customary land ownership. [74] LLA's implementation was inclusive, as the government sent procedures and guidelines to civil society for critique and input. The act incorporated time-bound mandates, which were prioritized during this implementation period. This commitment is a continuation from commitments in Liberia's previous action plan. Previous Commitments 1.4 and 1.5 resulted in major changes, such as broad public consultations and the creation of an online map for commercial land use and extractive sector revenue. [75]

This commitment had substantial completion by the end of the implementation period. [76] During implementation, the LLA took over management of the deed registry and, with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, planned to scan and make deeds available online (Milestone 2). Physical copies of land deeds and certificates continued to be held at the Center for National Documents and Records Agency. With the technical and financial support of the World Bank, the LLA also posted online policies, laws, and updates on government activities (Milestone 4). [77] This work was done under the Liberia Land Administration Project. [78] The project sought to establish a land administration system and support tribal land inventory. [79] Beyond the commitment milestones, the LLA simplified deed registration processes, created land survey regulation and surveyor guidelines, and trained 16 new surveyors.

Significantly, the LLA created and implemented an alternative land dispute resolution mechanism (Milestone 5). In 2019, the LLA and Ministry of Justice created the Land Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy and the Legal Aid Policy. These policies equally recognize the legitimacy of formal adjudication and alternative land dispute resolution to resolve land conflicts. There are many forms of alternative land dispute resolution throughout Liberia. Land disputes are often resolved through local customary authorities.

In 2018, the government established the Special Presidential Review Committee to resolve land conflicts between communities and concessions at the highest political level. Dispute resolution was an opt-in system (via a signed memorandum of understanding) with an opportunity for rapid, transparent adjudication based on publicly available data that was also made accessible by the commitment. Cases were usually resolved within the mechanism. The Land Authority is now seeking a legal mandate for binding judgments. [80] In December 2019, the United Nations committed to strengthening local land dispute governance and resolution mechanisms, suggesting that Liberia's alternative land dispute resolution tools will continue to be strengthened after the implementation period. [81]

Despite progress, this commitment fell short in the implementation of Milestones 1 and 3. Land rights data is not yet publicly available online (Milestone 1). Specifically, guides and GPS coordinates of indigenous and community land ownership information are not available on the LLA website. Data on land rights was not made publicly available on the National Bureau of Concessions' (NBC) platform, [82] due to NBC's managerial difficulties. [83] Additionally, Liberia did not complete its land inventory. The Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) did not produce and distribute hard copies of data from LEITI and SIMS (Milestone 3). These activities were inhibited by the unlawful appointment of the head of the Secretariat at the LEITI and the anticipated consequence of LEITI losing its accreditation. [84]

The progress made under this commitment represents major changes to government practice. In particular, the LLA's formal recognition and strengthening of alternative land dispute mechanisms mark a major change regarding the OGP value of public accountability. However, with limited completion of Milestones 1 and 3, this commitment failed to meaningfully change Liberians' access to land information. Therefore, this milestone led to major changes under the OGP value of public accountability but fell short of its aim to improve citizens' access to information.

The IRM recommends that implementers continue to work with international partners to complete commitment activities. The completion of a land deed registry and tribal land inventory would significantly increase citizens' access to land information. Additionally, the LLA should continue to expand citizens' access to dispute resolution mechanisms for land conflict, particularly ensuring equal access among all segments of the population.

[70] Independent Reporting Mechanism, Liberia Design Report 2017–2019 (Washington, DC: Open Government Partnership), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Liberia_Design_Report_2017-2019_for-public-comment.pdf.
[71] Ibid.
[72] "About Us," Liberia Land Authority, http://lla.gov.lr/web/index.php/about-us.
[73] "Liberia's Legislature Finally Passes Land Rights Act," Front Page Africa, 6 September 2018, https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/liberias-legislature-finally-passes-land-rights-act/.
[75] "Public Information on Land and Natural Resource Reform (LR0010)," Liberia, Open Government Partnership, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/members/liberia/commitments/LR0010/; and "Commercial Land Use Rights Information (LR0011)," Liberia, Open Government Partnership, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/members/liberia/commitments/LR0011/.
[76] Kulah Jackson (Liberia Land Authority), interview by IRM researcher, September 2019.
[77] Liberia Land Authority homepage, http://www.lla.gov.lr.
[78] The World Bank, Implementation and Status Report: Liberia Land Administration Project (P162893), 2018, http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/803981543941178720/pdf/Disclosable-Version-of-the-ISR-Liberia-Land-Administration-Project-P162893-Sequence-No-03.pdf, accessed December 2019.
[79] Ibid.
[80] Kulah Jackson (Liberia Land Authority), interview by IRM researcher, September 2019.
[82] "Liberia National Concession Portal," http://portals.flexicadastre.com/liberia/.
[83] Zeze Ballah, "Bureau of Concessions Boss, Coleman, Resigns Amid Challenges at the Agency," The Bush Chicken, 27 November 2019, https://bushchicken.com/bureau-of-concessions-boss-coleman-resigns-amid-challenges-at-the-agency/.
[84] "Nyenkan Re-shuffled from LEITI to President's Office," Daily Observer, 16 September 2019, https://www.liberianobserver.com/news/nyenkan-re-shuffled-from-leiti-to-presidents-office/.

Commitments

  1. Extend capacity and transparency of judicial system

    LR0039, 2020, Access to Justice

  2. Create public beneficial ownership register

    LR0037, 2020, Access to Information

  3. Publish budget information online

    LR0038, 2020, Aid

  4. Promote integrity within institutions and schools

    LR0040, 2020, Anti-Corruption

  5. Increase transparency and inclusivity of public contracts

    LR0041, 2020, Access to Information

  6. Train health professionals and open health data

    LR0042, 2020, Access to Information

  7. Make legislative process more transparent and participatory

    LR0043, 2020, E-Government

  8. Enhance compliance and transparency in tax system

    LR0044, 2020, E-Government

  9. Implement transparent SGBV roadmap

    LR0045, 2020, Access to Information

  10. Increase youth engagement in national policy

    LR0046, 2020, Marginalized Communities

  11. Monitor fulfillment of commitments

    LR0047, 2020, E-Government

  12. Publish latest health data

    LR0048, 2020, Access to Information

  13. Legislative Monitoring Database

    LR0027, 2017, E-Government

  14. Publication of Budget Documents

    LR0028, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  15. Freedom of Information (FOI) Act

    LR0029, 2017, Access to Information

  16. Citizen Monitoring for the Justice System

    LR0030, 2017, Access to Justice

  17. Feedback Mechanism to Build Accountability of the LNP

    LR0031, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Capacity Building for Integrity in Government

    LR0032, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  19. Transparency in the Land Authority

    LR0033, 2017, E-Government

  20. Accountability and Value for Money Through Open Contracting

    LR0034, 2017, Access to Information

  21. Beneficial Ownership Registry

    LR0035, 2017, Access to Information

  22. Open Data/Citizen Navigation Portal

    LR0036, 2017, Access to Information

  23. Starred commitment Commercial Land Use Rights Information

    LR0011, 2015, Capacity Building

  24. Open Aid Portal and Publication of Aid Data

    LR0012, 2015, Access to Information

  25. Link Financial Management System to Aid Management Platform

    LR0013, 2015, Aid

  26. Facilitate Tracking of EVD Funds

    LR0014, 2015, Access to Information

  27. Starred commitment Implementation of the New Jury Law

    LR0015, 2015, Public Participation

  28. Citzen Monitoring of Justice System

    LR0016, 2015,

  29. Civic Education and Citizen Engagement Around Offline Tools

    LR0017, 2015,

  30. Know Your Rights' Initiative

    LR0018, 2015, Justice

  31. Passage of Whistleblower Protection Act

    LR0019, 2015,

  32. Transparency Hubs

    LR0020, 2015, Public Participation

  33. Public Service Integrity

    LR0021, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  34. Citizen Feedback Platform.

    LR0022, 2015, E-Government

  35. e-Government

    LR0023, 2015, Capacity Building

  36. Public Expenditure Management Systems

    LR0024, 2015, Capacity Building

  37. Public Safety/ Law Enforecement Reform

    LR0025, 2015, E-Government

  38. Open Data Portal

    LR0026, 2015, Access to Information

  39. Appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs)

    LR0007, 2015, Capacity Building

  40. Popularize Freedom of Information (Foi) Law

    LR0008, 2015, Access to Information

  41. Expand Open Budget Initiative

    LR0009, 2015, Access to Information

  42. Public Information on Land and Natural Resource Reform

    LR0010, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  43. Increase Access to Public Information

    LR0001, 2013, Access to Information

  44. Open Budget Initiative

    LR0002, 2013, E-Government

  45. Extractive Industries Transparency

    LR0003, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  46. Citizens’ Participation and Dialogue

    LR0004, 2013, Public Participation

  47. Starred commitment Accountability and Integrity

    LR0005, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  48. Technology and Innovation

    LR0006, 2013, Access to Information

Open Government Partnership