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18.10.2008 Social News

Customary law project demands honesty from respondents

By gna

The Customary Law Project has appealed to persons knowledgeable in family as well as customary land law and practices to provide honest information for the codification of unified rules for customary laws relating to family and land.

The project, now in its pilot phase, is being jointly undertaken by the National House of Chiefs and the Law Reform Commission in 20 traditional areas with funding from the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ).

Prof Justice Kodzo Parku Kludze, Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, said this at a workshop organized by the “Ascertainment of Customary Law Project” for chiefs and queens as well as family and clan land owners of the Asogli Traditional Council in Ho on Friday.

The Asogli Traditional Council and the Krachi Traditional Council were selected from the Volta Region under the pilot project.

“This is our own project so be frank and honest with us”, Prof Justice Kludze, said.

He said the project is not about “what should be but what is” and assured that the methodology of the project was such that it could detect any false information.

Prof Justice Kludze said the project was not about who was qualified to be chief or queen but about gathering reliable information on family and customary land law and practices in the traditional setting.

He said the project is a difficult job and would require maximum support and co-operation of chiefs and their subjects to come out successfully.

Mr Justice Nasir Sule Gbadegbe, a member of the Law Reform Commission, said workshops would be followed by data collection through questionnaire, after which the information gathered would be validated at the level of the traditional area, the regional level and finally at the national level before being codified.

Regarding the benefits of the project, Mr Justice Gbadegbe said it would lead to the documentation of “our customary laws for use by the courts, academic institutions, communities and individuals”.

It will also be a reference point for customary land and family law, help minimize land disputes, strengthen Ghana's legal system and make access to land easier for investors.

Some of the issues raised by the participants included the wording of the questionnaire to bring out clearly the various types of land ownership authority and the history of landownership and settlements in the pilot areas.

Participants also suggested that chiefs should be the first level of authority to adjudicate cases under the codified customary land and family law. Togbe Kwaku Ayim, Fiaga of Ziavi Traditional Area, said the project was an important initiative which required the total support of chiefs and community leaders.