Land Commission Chairman, Dr. Cecil T. O. Brandy, has said that Chief Justice Francis Korkpor has acknowledged as “fruitful” the LC’s arbitration strategy for resolving land disputes.
Briefing news reporters last week, Chairman Brandy said since the arbitration strategy was introduced, many land cases on court dockets have been withdrawn and amicably resolved.
Dr. Brandy said due to the void created in the land sector the LC has been compelled to take some judicial functions to resolve land disputes among aggrieved parties – across the country – through arbitration.
He regretted that since Liberia was founded as an independent nation, there had not been any legal instrument to resolve land disputes out of court.
“We have had elements of land policy and we have had unplanned land policy but not a comprehensive land policy document that articulated what the land policy was in the Liberian government’s sphere of influence,” Dr. Brandy said.
In view of that, Dr. Brandy explained that the LC started to develop a comprehensive land policy that considers the essential elements of land rights as a major policy document.
Dr. Brandy noted that LC divided the work into four clustered components, namely: Land Rights; Land Administration; Land Use and Management and Land Disputes.
At the top of the LC’s priority was the Land Rights Policy that went through the hectic task of recruiting staff and consultants.
At the end of the exercise, plans for the launch of the LC program were held in Monrovia on March 11, 2010 where Vice President Joseph Boakai served as lead launcher.
When the LC was officially launched, Dr. Brandy explained that staff and field personnel immediately started a nationwide consultation.
He said the LC field staff went to all the 15 county capitals to gather and analyze suggestions from citizens regarding the Liberia Land Act (LLA).
“All over the country, citizens outlined their challenges that have to do with land ownership and concession agreements negotiated by the Liberian government,” said Dr. Brandy.
Prominent issues raised by citizens include numerous protests and violent confrontations at Golden Veroleum in Sinoe, Sime Darby in Grand Cape Mount, ArcelorMittal Liberia in Yekepa, Nimba and Lofa counties.
He said citizens demanded firm laws that would give them the right to own their lands, security of tenure and resolution of age-old land conflicts among others.
Dr. Brandy added that since the LC was launched with a five-year mandate, Vice President Boakai has been a staunch supporter for the successful implementation of its mandate.
To begin the practical work of the LC, its staff started developing policies that could lead to genuine legislation for the greater good of Liberians.
Dr. Brandy said that it took LC three years to collect, formulate and document all the policies into legal instruments that the Commission wants the National Legislature to pass into law.
He further noted that the crafted document was taken to the 15 counties in order for the citizens to validate it.
Dr. Brandy stated that for the past 168 years of the nation’s history, citizens in some parts of the country never had the right to land ownership due to the fact that when government enters into concession agreements that cover the land areas on which they reside, they are asked to leave.
“It is my hope that our lawmakers will see the wisdom of our arbitration strategy and consider the passage of this legislation,” Dr. Brandy pleaded.