Minister instructs land authorities to observe court rulings


Source from Vientiane Times:

The issuing of land titles to individuals and legal entities must comply with court verdicts to ensure justice and social order, a top official has said.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Sommad Pholsena, recently issued an instruction to land authorities to deal with land titles in a correct fashion.

The directive came after the judgements made in some places were inadequately enforced, creating loopholes for the people involved or a third party to oppose the issuing of a land title.

Failure to comply with court verdicts resulted in delays in issuing titles. In some cases, although a court case had not taken place, new land titles were issued to another side or a third party.

This led to complications with a number of petitions being filed to higher authorities.

The new instruction stipulates that everyone must obey the rulings handed down by courts. The Department of Natural Resources and Environment should assign their officials to enforce the rulings and help to inspect, measure and evaluate plots of land.

Authorities were also advised to observe court rulings on the freezing of land. If a court decision did not match the true situation concerning land plots or new evidence came to light, land officials should report the matter to those responsible for enforcing court verdicts in order to seek a solution.  

In addition, authorities were instructed to pursue court orders and decisions on revoking or issuing new land titles for individuals and legal entities, even though landowners opposed the decision.

People awarded newly issued land titles could sell the land based on court rulings. But if the case made against the issuing of a new land title was reasonable, land officials should report the matter to authorities.   

Land authorities must comply with court decisions on dividing and combining land plots, but must accurately measure the plot concerned with the involvement of officials, village authorities, owners and neighbors.

Mr Sommad said land titles were not to be issued to anyone if the two parties involved in a dispute were still in the mediation process.

Several years ago, failure to enforce court verdicts was a hot topic raised for debate at the National Assembly. Some people refused to accept court rulings and then tried to evade arrest.

Officials responsible for law enforcement were instructed to ensure that court judgements were applied in full, so as to deliver justice and build public trust.

Disputes concerning land have become a highly contentious issue due to the growing demand for land in Laos.

The lack of clear-cut urban planning has resulted in numerous project developers appropriating land owned by villagers, with many people refusing to accept the compensation offered by authorities.