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Rule of Law in Land Relations

 

      On March 28, 2008 the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Olexandr Medved'ko held a meeting of Collegium which considered the issue of rule of law in  the sphere of land relations. The heads of State Committee on land resources, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, State Committee on Forestry, Ministry of Agrarian Policy, Ministry of Defense, State Land Inspection, State Architectural and Building Inspection were invited to participate in the meeting. The Deputy Prosecutor General Tetyana Kornyakova addressed the meeting with information.

     During 2007-2008 local bodies of the Office of Public Prosecutor General initiated 770 criminal cases, half of which were directed to the court.

     Nearly 7.6 thousands of illegal decisions of state executive bodies and local government bodies were contested. The timely interference of public prosecutors prevented illegal alienation of almost 16 thousands hectares of state-owned land.

     4.3 thousands officials were called to responsibility, among which 400 were employees of state control bodies. Damages to the tune of UAH 58.5 million were compensated, over 25.4 thousands ha of land was withdrawn from illegal use.

     13.3 thousands of lawsuits were filed as a result of consideration of which damages to the tune of UAH 46 million were compensated.

    Absence of delimitation of land of state and communal ownership, of nature reserved fund, of water fund, of historical and cultural sites, incompleteness of land inventory and land monetary appraisal - all these further promote violation of law. It creates the basis for abuses and corruption among public authorities and local government bodies officials who take decisions concerning withdrawal, allocation and change of end-use of lands.

    Quite often state-owned land is allocated through criminal schemes, on dummies, pursuant to illegal court decisions. Scale violations of town-planning legislation lead to chaotic building up of cities, coastal protective stripes, especially valuable lands, lands of recreation zones.

     Out of 30 thousand of settlements of Ukraine more than half do not have general plans. In other settlements such plans are developed in 60ies and 70ies of the last century and require considerable correction. As a result, there are numerous cases of illegal building up of areas adjacent to existing houses with child and sporting grounds, green zones.

     Competence of control over protection and use of land is not fulfilled in full scale by bodies of State Committee on Land Resources, State Land Inspection, Environment and Natural Resources, State Architectural and Building Inspection, State Committee on Forestry. They continue to send materials on petty violations to Office of Public Prosecutor bodies, in order to create the visibility of effective work. There are examples when under the guise of separate land plots hundreds of hectares of forests are withdrawn and allocated for private farming (actually - for individual housing). In total, the Office of PG detected illegal withdrawal of 430 ha of land of forest fund for non-forestry purposes.

     Despite the requirements of law the areas of nature reserve fund are also withdrawn. Out of 2.8 million ha of such areas only 243 thousands ha have properly delimited boundaries, which promotes the unimpeded withdrawal of protected land for private use. According to decisions of executive bodies and local government bodies land of historical and cultural heritage, the area of which makes up 6.9 thousands ha, are illegally allocated. Over the absence of boundaries of historical and archaeological memorials, the protected territories are illegally withdrawn in favor of business corporations. Measures on establishment of such borders are not taken by local government bodies, which lead to the destruction of cultural heritage. Coastal shelter belts are illegally leased for development. For today only 19% of their area has been actually delimited in kind.

     Out of control bodies sight there are facts of unauthorized capture of land plots, the amount of which grows annually. Over 155 thousands ha are not withdrawn from illegal use for today. A debt for the lease of land shares exceeds UAH 240 million. A difficult situation is in Dnipropetrovs'k, Donets'k, Zaporizhia, Kyiv, Mikolaiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts. In the field of transport, defense and industry the requirements of law on registration of right on land plots use are not fulfilled in full scope. The similar situation is at the railway, aviation, main and pipeline transport. Numerous violations of land legislation requirements are commited during the withdrawal and re-allocation of land plots of military camps to businesses.
     The state of investigation of crimes in the field of land relations was improved. At the same time, the substantial drawbacks in investigation of such cases are registered.
     According to materials of all law enforcement bodies only 39 criminal cases about bribery were investigated. Compensation of the losses caused by crimes, withdrawal of illegally allocated or captured lands within the course of investigation are not provided in full scope. 
    Public Prosecutors insufficiently react on absence of the proper department control on the part of heads of investigation units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, fail to study criminal cases thoroughly and practically do not give instructions to investigators.

 

Summary in English of official press-release brought to you by the Center for Land Reform Policy in Ukraine

 

 

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