uncover the poor case

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  • disputes between the state or private interests on one side and poorer segments ofthepopulaceontheotherarecharacterizedbylong,drawn-out

    courtcasesandincreasinglyinvolveviolence.Ordinarypeoplecaught

    up in these disputes say state mechanisms treat them unfairly and judgmentsusuallygoagainsttheminjudicialproceedings.Intheend,

    theysay,theyloseeverything-houses,landandlivelihoodaretaken

    away,familiesarebrokenupandcommunitiesaredestroyed.Cases

    contestinglandrightscauseseveresufferingtomanypoorpeople.

    The Study on Learning processes toward reforming the legal processesofLandDisputeCasesaimstodevelopanunderstanding

    of the factors and causes leading to the current problems, analyze the problems and shortcomings of existing judicial procedures and legalframeworks,andtoproposesuggestionsonhowtoimprovethe

    legal/judicial procedures involved and the procedures that state

    agencies and government units related to land ownership follow, as wellasonhowtorevisetherelevantlawsthemselves.Towardthis

    end,theprojectlookedintolanddisputesin5communitiesaround

    Thailand:ViangNonglonginthenorthernprovinceofLamphun,Nong

    KinplaininthenortheasternprovinceofUbonratchathani,ThungPhra

    inthecentralprovinceofChaiyaphum,Rawaiinthesouthernprovince

    ofPhuketandThapYanginthesouthernprovinceofPhungNga.It

    studied the evidence presented in the cases, the judgments of the

    AbstractLand

  • local and appeals courts, and relevant reports by agencies such as theDepartmentofSpecialInvestigationsandindependentorganizations

    suchastheNationalCommissiononHumanRightsandtheOfceof

    theOmbudsman.Additionally,theprojectvisitedthecommunities

    and conducted individual and group interviews with people directly affected by the problems as well as people involved in some relatedcapacity. The project then conducted public forums at which it

    presented the resultsof its fact-nding investigations.The forums

    brought together judges, prosecutors, police, lawyers and government ofcialstoanalyzethesituationandsuggestwaysofdealingwiththe

    problemoflanddisputes.

    The analysis identied 17 entry points for injustice in land

    disputes,fallinginto5maincategories:

    Information and evidence 1. Privateinterestscangainaccesstocondentialofcialin-

    formation.Theycanuseknowledgeofareasand locales

    earmarked for government development plans to get

    peoplewithlanddeedsevictedfromtheirlandbydishon-

    est,unfairmeans.

    2. Ordinarycitizenscannotgainaccesstoinformationorofcial

    recordsinordertocheckthelegalityofsuspectedfraudulent

    documentscontestingtheirlandrights.

  • 3. Forgeriesandmanufacturedevidence including fake land

    purchasedocumentsandfalsedemarcationoflandbound-

    aries are used to obtain ofcial land titles that are then

    presentedasevidenceincourt,wheresuchofcialevidence

    isusuallyacceptedasproofofownership.

    4. Land laundering schemes pass ownership indirectly

    throughbanksandthegovernment.

    Performance of government personnel 5. Governmentpersonnelactimproperly.

    6. Governmentpersonnelrestrictthelivelihoodactivitiesand

    otherdevelopmentopportunitiesofpeopleghtingcases

    fortheirlandrights.

    7. Governmentunitswhoseworkrelatestocasesdonotact

    in accordance with policy directives on how to solve the problems.

    8. Governmentpersonneluseviolenceagainstordinarycitizens

    ghtingcasesfortheirlandrights.

    Filing and investigation of charges 9. Chargesareledagainstpeoplewithoutsufcientevidence.

    10. Thelingofalargenumberofcomplaintsrelatingtothe

    samecaseplacesanenormousburdenonordinarycitizens.

    11. Evictionordersareenforcedagainstcitizenswhohavebeen

    inpossessionofcontestedlandbeforethecaseforowner-

    shipisdecided.

  • 12. Theenforcementofpenaltiescausesseverehardship for

    families.

    Court cases 13. Ordinarycitizensdonothavethetimeandresourcestodeal

    withcasesthatdragonandon.

    14. Ordinarypeoplearelimitedintheirabilitytousethelegal

    languageandconceptsrequiredincourt.

    15. People lack lawyersoradvisorswhocangive themlegal

    adviceandsuggestionsonhowtoproceedwiththeircases.

    16. Somelegalprofessionalsprovidepeopleghtingcasesonly

    half-heartedassistanceordonotactinthebestinterestsof

    theirclients.

    Compensation for people found to be innocent 17. Citizenswhoarejailedafterbeingaccusedinlandcasesbut

    found innocent of the charges do not receive compensation fortheirtimeinjail.

    Based on the research it is recommended that citizens facing hardshipduetoevictionbecauseoflandrightscasesledagainst

    themreceivepropertreatment.Theyshouldbeentitledtoaplace

    tostayandearntheir livelihoodsothattheycan lookafter their

    familyandnotbecomeaburdenonsociety.Toensureabasiclevel

    ofjustice,whichwouldallowthemtocontestacasefairly,itisrec-

    ommended that they also be provided any necessary advice on legal orothermattersrelatedtothecase.

  • Inordertosolvethewidespreadproblemoverlandrightsat

    thestructurallevel,itisrecommendedthatactionbetakentoad-

    dresstheidentiedproblemsconcerninginformationandevidence,

    performance of government personnel, ling and investigation of

    charges,courtcasesandcompensationforpeoplefoundtobein-

    nocent.

    Additionally, it isrecommendedthatlawspertainingtoland

    rights and forests be reviewed to bring them into line with current realities, and that related policies that result in citizens not being treatedfairlyalsobereviewed.Suchpolicieswouldincludethose

    concerningpermissiontoenterforestareasandlandallocation.And

    appropriatereformsneedtobemadeinthestateofcesandorga-

    nizationstaskedwithsolvingtheproblemofinjusticeinlandrights

    cases.Concerningthejudicialprocess,proceduresfor investigating

    complaints and deciding whether to proceed with court cases should bereviewed.Itisespeciallyimportantthatinquiryandinvestigation

    procedures ascertain the truthfulness of evidence and documents presentedinsupportofcharges.Asforcourtcases,thesevereeffects

    that the cases themselves can have on the defendants should be takenintoconsideration.

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