Land conflict prompts mulling over law revision
  • | Tuoi tre | January 18, 2012 12:24 AM

Following a serious case in which four members of a family have been prosecuted for murder after they shot and injured six police officers in an encounter over land issues in Hai Phong City on January 5, a senior lawyer said the Law on Land should be amended.


The case of Doan Van Vuon, 49, of Tien Lang district, who acted against the local authorities’ decision to withdraw 50 hectares of land assigned to his family in 1993, is a typical incident that prompted thinking that it is time to adopt a new approach to land legislation, lawyer Tran Huu Huynh, head of the Legislation Department of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Tuoi Tre.

The lawyer, who has spent many years studying the law system on land, said, “We should not see this case as a single one, but should consider it along with a lot of other complaints that have occurred in relation to land issues.

Sometimes, a complaint that remains unsolved for a long time may lead to unexpectedly excessive responses, even violent acts. Vuon’s case is one. I was told that Vuon had long resisted against the district’s People’s Committee for its decision to withdraw the land before the forced removal imposed on Vuon’s family occurred.

The authorities forced Vuon to return the land, as it said that his right to use the land expired in 2009, but Vuon did not agree, saying he was eligible to continue using the land.

While relevant agencies are investigating the case, the issue here is why, when a land-related issue arises, does it often contain risks of disorder and inability, Huynh said.

“In my opinion, the land-related law system is characterized by three features: the first, it has a cumbersome volume of legal documents; the second, it is changed often and in some cases, both local authorities and citizens could not catch up with it; and the third, it governs numerous subjects and touches the most sensitive issue to people: land-based livelihood,” the lawyer said.

Lawyer Tran Huu Huynh: "I think that it is unadvisable to maintain an old mechanism that is hindering the country’s competitive ability." (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

He also answered some questions from Tuoi Tre.

Q: The Vietnam Farmers Association has officially proposed that the Land Law be amended to increase the term of use of State-allocated land to 50-70 years instead of the present 20 years. What do you think?

A: Presently, the country’s economic and demographic structures have changed vigorously and more young people born in rural areas leave their native lands than before. Therefore, the longer term of land allocation may lead to a waste in land use as well as in time taken for withdrawal of allocated lands and re-granting them to others.

On the other hand, one of the root issues related to land allocation is land ownership, which if resolved well will make land-related issued easier to resolve.

What approaches are lawmakers and researchers using in dealing with the land ownership issue?

Historically, the county once had a regime of land multi-ownership. According to Vietnam’s Constitution, land belongs to the ownership of the entire people, and this is different compared to the land policies of many countries in the world.

Currently, there are three different groups of opinions. The first group says that the existing land law system should be kept unchanged; the second agrees that land belongs to the entire people but requests that land use rights be expanded to an extent that is closest to ownership; and the third wants a land multi-ownership regime to be applied, including State ownership, collective ownership, and private ownership.

Which of those opinions do you support?

As the existing land law system has exposed many inadequacies, I think that it is unadvisable to maintain an old mechanism that is hindering the country’s competitive ability.

Many experts also says that the introduction of multi-ownership over land will create a new impetus for investors, drive back corruption in land management, and open better conditions for international economic integration.

However, such an introduction is not a thing that can be done overnight. It requires a suitable roadmap.

Please provide some details on the system of multi-ownership over land.

Multi-ownership over land means there are many types of ownership over land, in which State ownership and private ownership are the most important ones.

Many experts have suggested that private ownership should be applied to individuals’ dwelling land and farming land and that collective ownership, or public ownership, can be given to a community that uses a certain area of land for their common purposes, such as building a communal house or a community cultural centre.

Meanwhile, the State will take ownership over land of all other kinds.

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