Greater protection sought for owners and occupiers of land in St Lucia

TheroldPrudentACastries, St Lucia — Noting that the poor and vulnerable have always received the short end of the stick regarding matters related to land disputes that culminate in court-mandated evictions, the leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent, has called upon the government to reevaluate The Land Registration Act (No. 12 of 1984), which requires greater scrutiny of the sale and registration of lands.

These concerns have come to the fore in recent years after two eviction notices from the courts resulted in the demolition of homes in the constituency of Gros Islet. The LPM leader noted that, in one such instance, the occupant of the land was in possession of a “legal” title with supporting receipts documenting the sale and purchase.

However, Prudent stated, years after the new titleholder had constructed a home on the piece of land which she thought belonged to her, the court sided with a new claimant, who was able to successfully argue that the original seller had not actually owned the land, and had therefore had no right to sell it.

The LPM leader argued that, while he has no dispute with the court’s decision to deliver justice to the new claimant in regard to the recovery of his land, he is deeply troubled by the court’s decision to not render a judgment that would require full compensation to be made to the “legal” buyer who, through no fault of her own, had become the victim of a land sale that may not have received adequate vetting by the Land Registration Department.

Prudent also pointed to the future plight of hundreds of other poor people around the country who are legal occupants of disputed lands:

“I am referring to average Saint Lucian citizens who faithfully pay rent to their current landowners but who may well find themselves displaced by a court order that gives the land to a different owner. It is imperative for our nation to clean up this jumbled mess of land ownership, because this is the only way Saint Lucia will begin to set the national priorities straight,” Prudent said.

The LPM plans to hold a press conference on Monday at the party’s headquarters in Gros Islet on the topic of land ownership in Saint Lucia and the plight of the country’s poor under the theme “National Land Justice Project – Victims Tell Their Story”.

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