Remand Land Court to redetermine Iwaiu and Uchelkumer claims

By: L.N. Reklai

February 22, 2017 (Koror, Palau) Appellate Division of Palau Supreme Court reversed Land Court’s decision which had earlier awarded Meyuns Skojio to Rubekul a Meyuns and awarded it to Koror State Public Land Authority.  


It further instructed Land Court to redetermine the return of public land claims on portions of Skojio that are not umetate (fill land), claimed by Iwaiu Lineage and Uchelkumer Clan.

In the decision, it states, “We reverse in part, vacate in part and remand with instructions to award the umetate (fill land) portions of Skojio to Appellant Koror State Public Land Authority and redetermine return of public land claims of Appellant Iwaiu Lineage, Appellant Uchelkumer Clan and Appellee Rubekul a Meyuns.”

Appellate Court affirmed Land Court decision dismissing claim of Appellant Cordino Soalablai as untimely claim.

Rubekul a Meyuns had earlier claimed and won Meyuns Skojio from KSPLA, arguing that the sea bed was controlled by Rubekul a Meyuns and was forcefully taken and filled and turned into an airport by the Japanese.

Therefore, they argued that the filled area now belongs to them. Land Court ruled in their favor and award Meyuns Skojio to them.

Appellate Court overturned that decision stating that return of public land claims do not apply to umetate or fill land. Furthermore it states, the seabed was not public land before it was filled and therefore, cannot be claimed under return of public land claim.

Furthermore, it stated that that traditional government was the trustee that administered the area for public interest but is not the owner of the area.

The Appellate Court also voided Land Court’s ruling that Meyuns Skojio is 100% umetate or filled land and ordered it make additional factual findings to support their decision.

Land Court was directed to redetermine the claims of Iwaiu Lineage and Uchelkumer Clan that parts of Skojio are not fill land or umetate and are in fact part of their lands. [/restrict]