YESTERDAY IT WAS reported that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has signed into law the ‘Act Against Criminal Conveyance of Land’. The Act was signed on August 26 and passed on July 22, and concurred with on September 3, 2014 by both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate.
THE LAND LAW is an amendment of Chapter 15 sub chapter B, Section 15.21 of the Penal Law which states that a surveyor who encourages, persuades, surveys, uses his influence or in any other way participates or conspires with anyone in the sale or purchase of a parcel of land, knowing or being in the position to know that the seller of such land has no lawful title is guilty of a first degree felony punishable by both fine, a prison term of not less than 10 years and a permanent revocation of his license to practice as a surveyor.
THE LAW FURTHER states that a surveyor who surveys a land without a notice to all adjourning property owners, consistent with existing law, regulation or executive order or procedure, is guilty of the various degrees of felony and is given prison terms in different categories.
AMONG OTHER THINGS, the law mandates that any official of government including traditional, local and national leaders or any person holding a powerful position who abuses said authority to unduly influence or compel an individual or group of individuals to wrongfully convey a parcel of land or property of land is also guilty.
WE ARE GLAD that this law has been approved and praise the Land Commission for formulating it as part of efforts to ensure a comprehensive control, sale and use of land across the country. However, prior to the passage of the land law, there had been debates that the issue of land ownerships and illegal selling of lands by surveyors could have been the next subject of national crisis.
WE JOIN THE Land Commission in believing that this law now enacted will minimize the numerous land disputes in the country and promote peace, stability, harmony, unity, and national reconciliation as well as economic growth and development.
HOWBEIT, AN OLD aged pattern in Liberia, our beloved country, is that logical instruments are formulated and passed into law and amendments are made based on the day-to-day reality which has received commendations; yet, its implementation mechanism has been very weak and it is a serious major problem that is even losing public trust and creating fear.
THIS LAW LIKE many other laws are good and well in place especially where punitive actions are enshrined therein to deal with would-be violators but there is always uncertainty among the population for which it was enacted due to the lack of implementation strategy and or maybe there is no entity clothed with the administrative responsibility of ensuring its implementation.
WE AGAIN HAIL the passage of the land law which we believe if handled as per urgency will help to put to halt any would-be or planned ideology of individuals who would want to use said situation of land ownership to hide behind their deeds as was in the case of situations like the one in Margibi, Cape Mount, Bomi and Nimba Counties; just to name a few.
TO THE DRAFTERS, we say again we salute you for this document and hope that as you follow up its enactment, you will also follow up on its implementation so as to ensure that land rights are protected, be it by surveyors, sellers and buyers.