The Interim Land Task Force (ILTF) set up by the government says continual land dispute in Montserrado County and other parts of the country is one of the contributing factors threatening the fragile peace of Liberia.
Though the Land Commission did not give the number of land disputes currently across the country, but said it has helped to resolve a good number land cases so far through Alternative Dispute Resolution method or ADR.
The Chairperson of the Commission Dr. Cecil T.O. Brandy said the ADR approach gives the Commission go ahead to convene a taskforce to mediate land conflicts, but lacks the authority to implement laws governing the sector.
Dr. Brandy spoke Thursday, 6 October at the Ministry of Information on Capitol Hill in a weekly press briefing. “Our power is greatest with regards to the area of policy because it is the policy that forms the basis of action,” he said, and added, “It’s the policy that drives the law. And we are very proud of the Commission that over the last few years we developed, finally, we’ve come up with a set of policies with regards to land rights.”
He noted the government has been involved with land reform over the past years, conducted under the auspices of the Land Commission, noting the significance behind the reform process for the past five years has to do with the challenges it poses to development and growth of the country, with corresponding consequences on every single Liberian.
He said the initial step is to make sure every Liberian has access to land, meaning equal access to owning land, secondly, to guarantee tender security, especially by avoiding others from crushing on their friends’ land; thirdly to ensure improved land administration system that will keep good record on land matters, and fourthly; to improve the laws, and the investment that gears toward every citizen owning a piece of land.
Dr. Brandy said the Commission has also begun looking at mediation examples from other post-conflict countries that have experienced land disputes. He disclosed the Land Commission was created in August 2009 to deal with issues on land, adding this is the first time in the history of Liberia that land rights have been clearly defined, which include customary rights.
“With our new policy of recognition of customary land, we are hoping to empower local people. So some of the issues now that you see, even with concessions, will be resolved, because now negotiations will involve land owners at the community level where they are, and not at the government level.”
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne