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24.11.2004 General News

Legal regime on land comprises complex laws - Director

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Accra, Nov. 24, GNA - Mr Emmanuel A. Akuffo, Acting Chief Director, Ministry of Lands and Forestry, on Wednesday said the legal regime on land comprised hydra-headed of laws and in such a pluralist legal system, there was bound to be conflicts in the rules and procedures. He said because of the importance of land to the socio-economic and political development of this country one could not ignore the widespread problems that bedevilled the land sector. Mr Akuffo was opening a two-day workshop for consultation on legal and judicial review process, for over 100 stakeholders as part of activities planned under the Phase One of the Land Administration Project (LAP).

The major stakeholders on land from the Greater Accra, Eastern, Central and Volta Regions are chiefs, landowners, heads of land sector agencies, and consultants on land and estate developers. Mr Akuffo said the 1992 Constitution was used as a benchmark for measuring the validity of the norms in the legal order to the effect that all norms inconsistent with the Constitution were null and void. "Yet at times, there are conflicts, even between different provisions of the Constitution", he said.

Mr Akuffo noted that those conflicting laws needed to be reviewed with the view to removing repugnant, outdated, conflicting and duplicated legislations and harmonizing them with customary land laws. "In this way, the laws would then be codified into a set of coherent and consistent legislation to support land administration."

The Chief Director stressed that instead of clarifying the complex relationships that were found in land holding and ownership, some judicial decisions had been found to conflict, contradict or overlap with one another, He said "the results are more land related litigation which has now bogged down the courts system, slowing down considerably the disposition of land cases, and leading to the huge backlog of cases lying before the courts."

He said: "The levels of land litigation in the country have compounded, thereby leading to the insecurity of title and slowing down or blocking access to land for socio-economic development. "There is the need, therefore, to review key judgements and judicial processes on land and submit recommendations to improve judicial administration on land in the country," he said.

Mr Akuffo said in order to address these and other problems in the Land Sector, the government issued its Land Policy in June 1999, and that this blueprint was subsequently amended by the current administration in June 2002. He said the long-term goal of the Government's land policy was to stimulate economic development, reduce poverty and promote social stability by improving security of land tenure. He said it also required simplifying the process for accessing land and making it fair, transparent and efficient, developing the land market and fostering prudent land management. Dr (Mrs) Matilda Fiadzigbey, Administrator of Stool Lands, who chaired the function, asked the participants to critically examine the land laws and come out with positive suggestions to reduce litigation over land.

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