17 Jun 2008

Change those squatting laws

THE EDITOR: I am a layman who had no secondary or tertiary education, therefore my conception of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago could be skewed. It is my feeling that many laws in this country are made to instantly appease situations of crisis and to put government in a good light, but in the long run could be deleterious, biased, immoral and could provoke hostile and untenable situations.

One such law is the law on squatting. I was told by lawyers that the laws provide that if a squatter has been squatting or occupying someone else's property for upwards of 16 years even without the owner's knowledge, the squatter automatically becomes owner of the land and has rights to the land and cannot be put off the land by the owners.

I view this law to be one of expediency which calms the ears of a revolting people at a time of crisis for a place to live. How could this law be right for poor people like me whose lands are taken over by squatters and who is refused entry to the lands by the squatter with threats of violence and witchcraft?

However, people who have been squatting on State lands for 20 and 30 years are being forcibly put off the lands by having their houses bulldozed and broken down by agents of the State.

It is time to have a general revision of all laws that have outdone their usefulness.



To let Mr Harry know, the law was passed due to the efforts of Karl Hudson Philips, ANR Robinson and Basdeo Panday using the National Land Tenants and Rate Payers Association to create a political base that later became the NAR. The law was an attempt to win the grassroots people.

I've always thought it a damn sight unfair.