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Right to land ownership key to addressing poverty – HRC

RESPECTING individual rights of land ownership is central to address hunger and poverty, says the Human Rights Commission.

In a statement, HRC spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya stated that land ownership had potential to fostering sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development in the country.

He stated that internally displaced individuals and families suffer human rights violations as refugees.

“Respecting the rights of individuals to land ownership is central to addressing hunger and poverty and fostering sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development. On the other hand, individuals and communities have a responsibility to abide by the national laws for orderly and sustainable development to take place,” Muleya stated.

He urged individuals and families to desist from illegal land occupation and encroachment.

Muleya commended lands minister Jean Kapata for constructive resolution of land disputes between communities and the State.

“The Commission is particularly encouraged by the manner in which the Minister has been constructively engaging respective communities that are believed to have encroached on forest reserves. The constructive engagement of communities has averted potential humanitarian crisis associated with internally displaced individuals and families,” he stated.

“It is therefore gratifying that the government through the Ministry of Lands has given due consideration to the possible plight of individuals and families, some of whom have been living on forest reserves for more than 50 years.”

Muleya stated that the most suitable approach to resolving any dispute over occupation of forest reserves was constructive dialogue as opposed to forced evictions.

The HRC further thanked traditional leaders for their equally positive engagement with the state in protecting the rights of their subjects.

“The Commission will continue monitoring the right to land ownership and use, and also sensitising individuals and communities on their responsibilities to respect the laws regulating land ownership, use and occupation,” stated Muleya. “Communities must in particular be sensitised on the dangers of climate change as a result of failure to protect natural resources such as forests. The Commission will also continue engaging the state on the need to comply with its human rights obligations, including respecting the right to land ownership of individuals.”

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