Since the signing into law the Act Against Criminal Conveyance of Land by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in September 2014, as part of the Land Commission’s resolved commitment to institute realistic reforms in the land sector of Liberia, the Commission continues to receive commendations from various sectors of the Liberian society.
At a recent community outreach campaign on the Criminal Conveyance of Land Law organized by the Bong County Land Coordination Center, which operates under the auspices of the Land Commission, the citizens of Bong County lauded the Land Commission for being very instrumental in formulating laws that will now punish people engaged with the illegal sale of land regardless of their status.
People who attended the community engagement forums expressed the hope that the enforcement of the criminal conveyance law will help minimize the overwhelming land conflicts across the country and put in place deterrent measures for those that have survived on illegal land sale over the years.
“I am not saying the Land Commission has not being working over the years, but I think the formulation of this law by the Commission should be figured out among the many works it has done over the period as an indelible accomplishment” Bong County Inspector William Kollie expressed in a celebrated tone.
Inspector Kollie also lauded members of the National Legislature for passing the law in the interest of the Liberian people, which did not exclude government officials from being penalized if they abuse their position of trust to influence or compel the conveyance of land illegally.
“I strongly believe this law is not selective because it includes punishment for everybody and we hope it will be implemented just how it is written in the book” Samuel Kerkulah youth leader of Gokpalai expressed during one of the community engagements.
Participants at the forum prevailed on the Land Commission to increase awareness on the law through vigorous sensitization and education campaigns to enable ordinary people better understand the law, which is relatively new.
The Land Coordination Center (LCC) in Bong County as part of its early awareness raising activities on the law, has distributed over seventy five (75) copies of the Criminal Conveyance of Land Law to several institutions in the county, including the Gbarnga Regional Justice and Security Hub, Magisterial and Circuit Courts in Gbarnga, among others.
It can be recalled, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed into law the “Act Against Criminal Conveyance of Land” on August 26, 2014 after its passage by both Houses of the National Legislature on Tuesday July 22, 2014 and Monday September 3, 2014, respectively.
The Act Against Criminal Conveyance of Land, published into Handbills by authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is an amendment of Chapter 15 Subchapter B, Section 15.21 of the Penal Law of Liberia.
The Criminal Conveyance of Land Law 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 a fine, a prison term of not less than ten years and a permanent renovation of his license to practice as a surveyor.
The law also points out that a surveyor who surveys a land without a notice to all adjoining property owners, consistent with existing law, regulation or executive order or procedure, is guilty of a felony of the third degree.
The Law further states that a person guilty of a second degree felony is given a prison term of not more than five years and made to restitute an amount equal to double the gain received from the criminal conveyance of land, for the first offense while a person guilty of criminal conveyance for the second time be given a mandatory five year prison term and required to restitute the amount equal to double the gain received from the criminal conveyance of land.
The Law states that a person guilty of criminal conveyance of land shall face a felony of the second degree while a person is guilty of third degree felony if he or she purchases a parcel of land knowingly or have reason to know that the land does not belong to the seller or is being criminally conveyed.
A person guilty of third degree felony under this Law shall be punished by both a fine to be determined by the Court, the maximum which shall not be more than double the gain, and a prison term of not more than three years.
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 any portion of land is guilty of a felony of the second degree.
The Act Against Criminal Conveyance of Land was formulated by the Land Commission as part of strapping efforts to ensure a comprehensive control, sale and use of land across the country.
The Land Commission believes that this Law 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.