Court Decision Needed For Vanuatu Land Compensation

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Government wants to pay, but rightful owners not yet declared

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 30, 2013) – The Vanuatu Lands Minister says the government is awaiting a court declaration of who the custom land owners of Port Vila Municipality are before it can pay out compensation.

Ralph Regenvanu says in 1992, the then-Prime Minister paid substantial compensation to some families, but there was never a decision from a land tribunal on who the custom owners are.

He says when that payment was made, some families did not accept the money as they wanted to see a determination first.

Mr Regenvanu says a court declaration will identify those people who own the land and still require payment.

"The current government would like to see as soon as possible the compensation paid to the custom owners. But, for that to happen, there has to be a court declaration, a judicial decision to declare who the custom owners of Port Vila are, and once that happens, the government is preparing now to make payment to any of the custom owners who have not yet already been paid," he said.

Ralph Regenvanu says the land is already being used as state land - so custom owners will be given payment, but there will be no change to titles or leases.

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