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From Kathryn Green Sat 1 MAR 2014 - 9h37 AM X-Posted from H-AFRICA@H-NET.MSU.EDU ____________________ From: Bankole Thompson <Bankole.Thompson@eku.edu> Date: 28 February 2014 Dear Kathryn Green: Reference your email forwarded to me by Dr. Dixon-Fyle <email@example.com>, I set out below my considered responses to the issues raised: 1. I endorse wholeheartedly your articulation of the existing law on the subject of the distinction between "native" and "non-native" in the Sierra Leone jurisdiction. Evidently, to the progressive legal mind, the distinction is anachronistic in the context of a modern and united Sierra Leone. This is a view I have always taken both as a judge and a scholar. It is certainly one of those features of the laws of the country that are overdue for urgent reform. Consistent with the fundamental rights and freedoms provisions of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, nothing short of abolition of the distinction would suffice as evidence of progressive reform. I did have occasion to allude to the distinction in a book chapter I wrote entitled Due Process and Legal Pluralism in Sierra Leone: The Challenges of Reconciling Contradictions in the Laws and Cultures of a Developing Nation in Comparative Criminal Justice edited by Charles B. Fields and Richter H. Moore, Jr., an excerpt from which is set out below: "The Krios or Creoles are still legally classified as "non-natives." By contrast, the indigenous peoples are classified as "natives." According to the Interpretation Act, 1971, a "native" is defined as "a citizen of Sierra Leone who is a member of a race, tribe or community settled in Sierra Leone (or the territories adjacent thereto), other than a race, tribe or community (a) which is of European or Asiatic or American origin, (b) whose principal place of settlement is the Western Area." The term "non-native" is used to designate association with long residence and property interests in the Western Area; some consanguineous or affinal tie with established Krio or Creole families; affiliation with Christianity and Western education; and the practice of monogamous, statutory marriage (Harrel-Bond and Rijinsdrop, 1974) The legal effect of this cultural differentiation is that every person resident in Sierra Leone is still either a "native" or "non-native," pejorative though these characterizations may appear in a strictly nonlegal context." In my capacity as Interim Dean of the Sierra Leone Law School (when I was officiating as Judge of the Special Court for Sierra Leone) I served, ex officio, as a member of the Sierra Leone Law Reform Commission. At a meeting of the Commission held on December 3, 2007, during a discussion of the Draft Land (Acquisition and Commercial Use) Act, 2005, I recall that the Committee assigned the task of Land Law Reform, did assure the Commission that the draft bill under consideration addressed "the issue of the discrimination between "natives" and "non-natives" on the issue of acquisition of land in the provinces of Sierra Leone. 2. On the general issue of the existing state of the laws governing land tenure in Sierra Leone, in a presentation made to a Workshop organized by the Sierra Leone Law Reform Commission on February 20, 2004, I made the following observations: "Further, the pluralistic system of land ownership in the country reflected by the existing tension between customary land ownership in the Provinces and land ownership according to the principles of the English Law of Property in the Western Area needs to be addressed as a medium or long-term law reform priority. Such reform should involve: I) the unification of the land tenure system by creating a reciprocal freehold estate interest in land in the Provinces as presently obtains in the Western Area, that is to say Sierra Leoneans born in the Western Area should be able to acquire freehold estate interest in land in the Provinces, and, ii) the simplification and systematization of conveyancing in respect of land by the creation of a Land Registry Act, along the same lines as the comparable English Land Registry Act of 1925, distinct from the Registration of Instruments Act. A judicial clarion call for such reform came from the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone several years ago in the Dr. Seymour Wilson's Land Case. Experts have indicated that this pluralistic system of land ownership is a constraining factor on two major areas of economic development, to wit, the promotion of agricultural development and the promotion of industrial development." 3. For a discussion of the Constitutional significance of the concept of "negro African-descent" in our citizenship laws, see an analysis of the celebrated case of Akar vs. Attorney-General at pages 21-24 of my book entitled The Constitutional History and Law of Sierra Leone (1961-1995) published by the University Press of America, Inc. in 1997. The above is all I can offer by way of my considered views on the issues. However, I suggest you contact the individuals whose names are listed below for some more views or information on the subject having regard to their expertise on some aspects of land law in Sierra Leone. They are: 1. Pamela Davis, LLM, Secretary of the Sierra Leone Law Reform Commission 2. Seray Zubairu (nee Kallay), LLB, Administrator and Registrar-General of Sierra Leone 3. Hon. Justice Dr. Ade Renner-Thomas, Formerly Chief Justice of Sierra Leone I hope you find this useful. Best regards! Sincerely, Hon. Justice Dr. Bankole Thompson --