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CSO Strategy Workshop on Implementation of UPR Recommendations, 29 November- 1 December 2017, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Written By NAFSO on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 | 2:24:00 PM

CSO Strategy Workshop on Implementation of UPR Recommendations, 29 November- 1 December 2017, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Outcome Declaration

Sri Lanka’s human rights record has been reviewed twice at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), between 2008 and 2012. In total, during the first and second cycle, Sri Lanka received 303 recommendations. Out of these, Sri Lanka Accepted 175 and Noted 128 recommendations.
The third, and latest, review of Sri Lanka took place on 15 November 2017, at which the State received 230 recommendations. 177 were accepted and 53 noted at the adoption of the Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. The Government of Sri Lanka will provide its final responses to recommendations no later than the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council in March 2018. The State of Sri Lanka has until the next UPR in 2022 to implement received third cycle UPR recommendations.

The UPR framework encourages the active involvement of civil society in the implementation of UPR recommendations. The success of Civil Society Organisations’(CSO) engagement in the UPR ultimately depends on their ability to monitor and support the implementation of UPR outcomes in cooperation with their Government and other stakeholders.
Sri Lankan civil society representatives (see annexe 1) met for three days to develop; cooperative partnerships with national human rights organisation, a CSO action strategy, and a suggested implementation plan.

As a result of this three-day workshop, and based on the analysis of all the recommendations received by Sri Lanka in the third cycle, participating CSOs have agreed to advocate for and to prioritise the following:
  1. ·      Seek input from organisations not present at the workshop prior to finalising the workshop documents;[ST1] 
  2. ·      Continue to actively include a wide range of CSOs working on diverse human rights issues in the UPR process;
  3. ·      Raise awareness at the grassroots level of the rights of women particularly regarding the CEDAW review, CEDAW outcomes, and laws and regulations prohibiting domestic violence;
  4. ·      Advocate for the inclusion of a separate chapter on the rights of women in the new constitution;
  5. ·      Lobby the Government of Sri Lanka to implement laws to protect women;
  6. ·      Support the Government of Sri Lanka to create a Women’s Commission;
  8. ·      Lobby the Government of Sri Lanka to draft and pass the new constitution and to include economic, social, and cultural rights as fundamental rights;
  9. ·      Push the Government to act progressively in ensuring economic, social and cultural rights of the people, with particular attention in increasing resource allocations for health, education and social security systems
  10. ·      Resist development projects and economic plans which violate human rights and destroy environmental systems;
  11. ·      Lobby for an economic policy which protects the rights of local producers and communities and is in line with the sustainable development commitments of the Government of Sri Lanka;
  12. ·      Lobby the Government of Sri Lanka to return military occupied land to its previous civilian owners;
  13. ·      Advocate for the Government of Sri Lanka to enact legislation to protect people’s right to their land;
  14. ·      Support the establishment of a Commission on Plantation housing, and land rights;
  15. ·      Create a civil society action group to support the implementation of the 5-year National Plan of Action for plantation community’s social development;
  16. ·      Strengthen the operational capacity of the National Human Rights Commission in line with the Paris Principles;
  17. ·      Support the full implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan, including integration of third cycle UPR, CESCR, CEDAW and other treaty body recommendations;
  18. ·      Lobby the Government of Sri Lanka to publish a list of all enforced disappeared persons;
  19. ·      Push the Government to implement the recommendations from the final report of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms and engage in its the wide dissemination;
  20. ·      Lobby the Government of Sri Lanka to establish the Truth-Seeking Commission and judicial mechanisms for accountability;
  21. ·      Lobby the Government of Sri Lanka to criminalise enforced disappearance in national law;
  22. ·      Lobby the Government of Sri Lanka to take immediate action to implement the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) and to include representatives from families of the disappeared in the staff;
  23. ·      Advocate for the full implementation of the Witness Protection Act;
  24. ·      Support efforts to address any discriminatory laws and practices, in line with Sri Lanka’s accepted international obligations;
  25. ·      Advocate for the establishment of an Anti-Discrimination Commission;
  26. ·      Contribute to the Government of Sri Lanka’s effort to increase access of persons with disabilities to public life, education, employment, health, and political participation;
  27. ·      Advocate for the elimination of discriminatory laws and regulations against people living with disabilities;
  28. ·      Lobby for an increase in budget allocations to welfare programmes, particularly for those living with disabilities;

  29. ·      Support all initiatives to prevent and combat all forms of discrimination, in particular, those on the ground of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI);
  30. ·      Advocate for the amendment of the penal code Section 365 and 365A to decriminalise consensual same-sex conduct and displays of affection;

  31. ·      Advocate for the Government of Sri Lanka to adopt provisions for rehabilitation, within the IDP policy or through separate policy, to ensure durable solutions for Sri Lankan refugee returnees;
  32. ·      Advocate for the integration of the Convention of the Rights of the Child into domestic legislation;
  33. ·      Advocate for adequate resourcing of special courts, police, investigations, and the National Child Protection Authority for the improved protection of children;
  34. ·      Advocate for the full implementation of the Government of Sri Lanka’s National Language Policy, particularly in bilingual areas;

  35. ·      Advocate for the establishment of a National Independent Commission to ensure religious rights and protection of religious institutions, particularly of minorities;
  36. ·      Take concrete measures aimed at preventing and punishing the perpetrators of hate speech and incitement of violent attacks against ethnic and religious minorities;

With this Outcome Declaration, the signatories commit to continue working on the implementation of UPR recommendations throughout the third UPR cycle, together with all relevant stakeholders, and to meet regularly to provide updates on the status of their UPR activities.
Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1 December 2017

Annex 1
List of participating Civil Society Organisations

1.     National Fisheries Solidarity Organization
2.     The Law and Society Trust
3.     Naula Rural Development Federation
4.     Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform Law and Society Trust (LST)
5.     Uva Wellassa Women’s Organisation
6.     Jaffna District Fisheries Organisation
7.     Rural Liberation Society
8.     Lanka Farmer’s Forum
9.     District Fisheries Organisation Trinco
10.  Farmers’ Association of North Central Province
11.  FIAN Sri Lanka
12.  Sri Lanka Nature Group
13.  Equal Ground
14.  Disibility Organsiations Joint Front
15.  V for Rights
16.  Social Institute for Development of Plantation Sector
17.  Welfare Organisation of Persons With Disabilities
18.  Justice for All
19.  Affected Women’s Forum
20.  Women’s Action Network
21.  Savisthri
22.  Women’s Centre
23.  Rural Women’s Forum
24.  Mannar Women Development Front
25.  Mothers and Daughters of Lanka
26.  Sri Vimukthi Women’s Organisation
27.  Center for Human Rights and Development
28.  Child Development Initiative
29.  Mannar Social and Economic Development Organisation
30.  Forum for Returnees
31.  Centre for Policy Alternatives
32.  Right to Life
33.  Galle Human Rights Organisation
34.  Rule of Law Forum
35.  Jayawabodhay
36.  Uva Shakthi Foundation
37.  Fisheries Cooperative Federation, Kilinochchi


Consultations of communities on Government Fisheries Policy draft

Written By NAFSO on Monday, January 08, 2018 | 3:00:00 PM

Sri Lanka fisheries Ministry drafted a national fisheries and aquaculture policy and have open for public comments in the official website.  

NAFSO is lobbying for bringing up a sustainable fisheries policy for the country since the year 2003. NAFSO create and submitted a people based fisheries policy draft prepared by consulting fisheries communities, schollers and other stakeholders of the sector.

A consultation meeting with district fisheries organizational activits were conducted on 4th January prior to the district level peoples consultation. Basic analysis were done by

Sri Lankan communities/stakeholders proposals to the Voluntary guideline for Securing of Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (VGSSF) by UN-FAO was also submitted by the NAFSO.


Struggle for human rights in Sri Lanka: Progress despite a difficult legacy

Written By NAFSO on Monday, January 01, 2018 | 1:08:00 PM

By Dr Harsha de Silva, MP, Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs
At a time when the world seems to be struggling mightily to put human rights at the forefront of a global discourse burdened by conflict, fear of terrorism and radicalisation, and real or perceived security threats of various kinds, mechanisms like the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Right Council gain an added importance. The UPR was enacted in 2006 by the General Assembly of the UN as a process in which the human rights record of every member state is scrutinized by fellow member states and its adherence to obligations in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments are tested.

Sri Lanka is reporting under the UPR mechanism for the third time this week in Geneva, with previous reports occurring in 2008 and 2012. Following more than three decades of conflict and a subsequent government which had a dubious record on human rights, I am happy to represent a government which has made vindication of human rights central to its policies. Considering the difficult legacy, it was always to be expected that the process was never going to be easy. However, there are many signs of progress on the front of human rights we were proud to present in Geneva.

On 1 November, the government launched Sri Lanka’s National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2021, which outlines our vision for human rights during the next five years. The plan, informed by wide consultations, contains feasible, actionable and relevant action points pertaining to ten thematic areas - Civil and Political Rights, Prevention of Torture, Rights of Women, Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Returning Refugees, Rights of Migrant Workers, Rights of Persons With Disabilities, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Rights of Children, Labour Rights and Environmental Rights. The goals set out in the plan are clear, and they will strengthen the existing national mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights through substantial constitutional, legislative, policy and administrative frameworks. The recently enacted budget clearly shows we are serious about seeing this plan through and have created effective ways of monitoring and evaluating its implementation.

The National Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) has been further strengthened with the appointment of independent commissioners by the Constitutional Council. The HRCSL has the authority to entertain complaints and conduct investigations regarding infringements or imminent infringements of fundamental rights and to provide for resolution by conciliation and mediation. It also monitors the welfare of persons in detention. The government has progressively increased resources allocated to the commission as one of the key human rights institutions and will continue to support and safeguard its independence.

We have consulted and listened to the people on how to go about addressing the needs resulting from the decades of conflict and suffering. These extensive consultations carried out by the Consultation Task Force comprising an 11-member all-civil society group inform our approaches to reconciliation and dealing with the past. We have also adopted the National Policy on Reconciliation based on the feedback we received from communities and multiple other stakeholders.

As one of the key measures aimed at addressing the suffering of the families of the missing persons, the government enacted legislation for establishing the independent and permanent Office on Missing Persons (OMP), and it came into operation on the 15th September 2017. On 20th October 2017, the Constitutional Council advertised, in all three languages, calling for applications to fill the seven posts of Commissioners. This Office is mandated to take all necessary measures to provide for a mechanism to address the issues and concerns related to missing persons. We cannot claim to be a society where the rights of all citizens are equally respected if we are blind to the suffering of mothers still searching for their children. In the budget for 2018, we have proposed setting aside 1.4 billion Rupees for the operation of the OMP for next year.

An office is to be established to address reparations to the victims of the conflict, and the draft legislation prepared by experts in this regard is currently under discussion. Meanwhile, the Government has already paid Rs. 574 million and Rs. 605 million in 2017 and 2016 respectively, as compensation for victims, through the Rehabilitation of Persons, Property and Industries Authority (Sri Lanka) – REPPIA. A draft law for a TRC is also under consideration. The government remains firmly committed to developing a domestic mechanism to address justice and accountability on alleged human rights and humanitarian law violations. The architecture of the mechanism will be devised taking cognizance of our commitment to fight impunity, as well as of all relevant factors that shape Sri Lanka’s constitutional and political context.

The security forces have continued to progressively vacate lands in the Northern and Eastern Provinces that had been occupied for military use and strategic security reasons and appropriate compensation will be provided where release is not feasible due to security reasons. At the end of the conflict the security forces were using approximately 88571 acres of state lands and 30, 337 acres of private lands. Of this, as at 31st October 2017, the armed forces had vacated 57,278 acres of state lands and 24,675 acres of private lands in the Northern and Eastern provinces. 604 more acres of state lands and 294 acres of private lands have been earmarked for release by the end of this year. Appropriate compensation in consultation with the persons concerned, will be made in connection with private land that cannot be released for security or strategic purposes such as land around the Palaly airport in the North.

In 2016, a total of 11,253 houses (Rs. 8,963 million) were handed over to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and an additional allocation of Rs. 4,785 million has been made in the 2017 budget for the construction of 5,732 houses. In the next year’s budget, we have proposed an allocation to support the construction of 50,000 brick and mortar houses in the North and East. It is clear for all to see that our commitment to redressing those affected by the conflict in all areas of our country is rooted in action, not only words.

Amongst many other positive developments, the government endorsed the ‘Declaration of the Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict’ on 12th January 2016, including by ending impunity for such crimes. To address the specific issues faced by Women Headed Households (WHH) who have been identified as a vulnerable social group, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a National Action Plan on WHHs in October 2016 which focuses on health and psycho-social support, livelihood development, protection, social security,support services systems, as well as national level policy formulation and awareness building.

Regulations and measures have been put in place to eradicate child labour to ensure the full enjoyment of the rights of the child. Various initiatives are underway on this front, including the concept of Child Labour Free Zone initially piloted in the district of Ratnapura, successfully eradicating child labour in that district. The success of this project has now been replicated in all the 25 districts in the country.

And there is much more to point to in illustrating the progress we have made in the past two years as there is much to be proud of. At the same time, we must not be blind to the significant challenges we are facing as we continue on this journey.

By Dr Harsha de Silva, MP, Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs

While the government has released over 12,000 ex combatants, and it has taken a policy decision to reduce the number of detainees held without charge under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), we are aware of the need to reform this act and previous emergency regulations. To this effect, a draft policy and legal framework for a proposed counter-terrorism law to repeal the current PTA was formulated by a committee of experts and a draft bill is being finalized.

The government maintains a ‘zero tolerance policy’ on torture and is cognizant of the continued challenges encountered with respect to combating torture, illustrated in the recent reports by some media and international NGOs. We will ensure that such allegations of torture committed in the country are investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.We can’t claim progress on human rights if we allow for such despicable practices to continue. On 14th November, the Cabinet of Ministers approved Sri Lanka’s accession to the Optional Protocol on the Conventional against Torture and the appointment of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka as the National Preventive Mechanism under the Protocol. Our government is determined to take all possible steps to eliminate the practice of torture in our country. We urge everyone in the country to unite in this effort. No human being should ever face the horrors of torture in our country.

Our commitment to human rights is firm, and we will continue to illustrate this through action, policy and legislation. It is a journey we embarked upon in 2015 with a mandate from the people who were tired of conflict, tired of corruption and tired of abuse. It is a journey towards the full respect for the rule of law, towards reconciliation and sustainable peace, towards upholding and protecting human rights of all our citizens. We are aware that similar processes in some countries which faced similar legacies of conflict as Sri Lanka took decades, we are aware of the difficulties and challenges. However, our human rights agenda is much more ambitious and we don’t intend to measure our progress in decades, as it can clearly be seen from the record presented in Sri Lanka’s UPR report.We stand firm in our commitment to the struggle for human rights and to seeing our journey through to the benefit of all Sri Lankans. We are proud of the progress we have achieved in less than three years, progress which all citizens and the international community can clearly see. We’ll be prouder still when we finish the ambitious job we started.

Source: The Island

Permission granted to use Winch Machines to pull out Seine nets

Written By NAFSO on Monday, December 18, 2017 | 3:37:00 PM

The Ministry of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development has granted permission to use Winch Machines to pull out Seine nets under stringent conditions, following requests made by beach seine fishermen who are comprised of approximately 400 families with dependents of over 18000 ,as a solution to labour shortage,  
However, the request awaited approval for months due to the fact that the use of tractors is reported to have led to affect severe damage to the coastal environment.
The Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera has issued strict instructions to the fishermen engaged in seine fishing to take measures to pull out their nets devoid of causing damage to the coastal environment, considering the fact that the use of winch machine would help pull nets relatively with lesser labor force.
Accordingly, the 40th anniversary celebration of seine net fishermen held yesterday 11th at Udappuwa in Chilaw and the Hon .Minister observed pulling out seine nets in progress by using Winch machine and instructed them to use those machines without damaging the coastal environment. 
He expressed that strict legal action will be instituted, if illegal seine net practices such as use of tractors to pull out seine are carried out.
The State Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development Hon.Dilip Wedaarachchi and the Director General of Department of Fisheries were among participants.

Case of eviction for tourism development in Panaama Village, Sri Lanka

Written By NAFSO on Monday, December 11, 2017 | 10:07:00 PM

The International Tribunal on Evictions has considered proven violations of human rights, urges authorities to stop evictions and to return land to displaced people immediately, and calls for the military to get out and cease commercial activities.
The Jury of the 6th  Session of the International Tribunal on Evictions (ITE), held in Venice, Italy, from 28 to 30 September 2017, listened for two days to the testimonies, reports and recommendations of inhabitants and communities from 5 continents who are affected by evictions and human rights violations caused by abusive tourism development. The 6th  Session of the ITE marks the beginning of World Zero Evictions Days, a global convergence of local initiatives for the right to housing that will take place throughout October 2017.
The Tribunal opened with an inaugural message from Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. She underlined the relevance and the legal obligations of states to comply in particular with Article 11: International Covenant Economic Social and Cultural Rights and confirmed her acknowledgment of and support for the International Tribunal on Evictions.
Special attention was given to the case of Panaama village, Sri Lanka, where 1,400 people were violently evicted in 2010. On their lands, the Sri Lankan Navy built a hotel, the Malima Lagoone Cabanas, while the Air Force is building the International Relations Centre. The villagers, peasants and fishermen who were evicted are struggling to recover the confiscated land, but so far they have not obtained justice.
The ITE Jury, composed of concerned experts and representatives from international and local organisations specialising in human rights and tourism, has proven the evidence that tourism development that puts profits before local communities and their well-being, leads to violations of national laws and human rights legally recognized by the countries that have ratified the International Covenants. Analysis of the cases shows that the loss of local residents’ shelter, housing and land, as well as loss of access to resources upon which their livelihood depends upon, triggers additional human right violations.
The case of Panaama Village highlights a clear lack of Free, Prior and Informed Consent and meaningful consultation of the local community with regards to tourism development and land right issues resulting in violations of national and international regulations.
In light of that, the 6th  Session of International Tribunal on Evictions has issued preliminary general Recommendations and specific Recommendations related to the Sri Lanka Case.
The ITE is committed to implementing these Recommendations, through the mobilisation of social organisations and international networks, involving the UN System, and carrying out monitoring in March and October 2018.
  • Recommendations to National / Local Authorities
  • Recommendations to Tourism Businesses and Investors
  • Legal Background supporting Evidences of Violations of Human Rights
For further informations:
Soha Ben Slama, Coordinator of the International Tribunal on Evictions (ITE),  
Cesare Ottolini, International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI),  


Recommendations to National / Local Authorities 

  1. We urge the Divisional Secretariat of Lahugala, District Secretary of Ampara and the Land Commissioner General’s Department to implement the Cabinet decision of 11 February 2015 and allow them unrestricted access to their land and marine resources. Furthermore we demand to fairly compensate the communities for the 25 acres that the constructions have already being done.  
  2. We urge the Government to follow the recommendation of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (HRC) in complaint case number HRC/AM/105/10/b/OT] and order of the Magistrate’s Court of Pottuvil 8455/PC/09 by refraining from taking any steps to evict the people who have returned to their lands, refrain from preventing the people from returning to their land and to permit the people to return to their lands. 
  3. We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to compensate the communities in Paanama for the losses they experienced through the destruction of their houses, belonging and crops, by being forcibly evicted and cut off from their sources of livelihood, income and food over the period of more than 7 years and to assist the displaced families in restoring their livelihoods upon their return to their lands. 
  4. We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to reduce the military presence and order the military to cease violence against, surveillance, intimidation and harassment of the local population, activists, civil society, and journalists and to order the military to cease all commercial activities by dismantling military-run hotels. 
  5. We urge the national and local authorities to comply with the Human Rights framework, which the government of Sri Lanka ratified, and to implement the UNHRC Resolution 30/1 on “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka”. 
  6. We urge the national government to enshrine housing and land rights as fundamental rights in the new constitution and to establish an independent land commission with a people friendly land policy in Sri Lanka.  
  7. While the Sri Lanka Tourism Strategy 2017-2020 emphasises communities’ role as a valuable workforce in tourism, the commitment to ensuring their free, prior and informed consent in tourism development, particularly when it affects their homes, land and resources,  remains rather vague. It is high time to ensure that mechanisms for local community participation in tourism planning are enshrined in laws, public policies and are effectively enforced at local and national levels. Furthermore, structural barriers to the development of small and medium sized local tourism businesses and community-based tourism initiatives, such as complicated licensing systems and unfavourable tax schemes, must be addressed. 
  8. National and local authorities must keep communities informed regarding regional development plans, such as tourism development zones, respecting their right to information and allowing for their meaningful participation and consultation in the process of developing and implementation such regional strategies. 
  9. The Minister of Lands must ensure due process relating to the acquisition of private and state land by the state and by tourism businesses.
  10. As a general principle, independent and mandatory environmental impact assessment as well as social and human rights impact assessments should be carried out in a participatory manner prior to any decision to acquire private land/use state land and to implement development projects.
  11. The involuntary relocation of communities must be kept to an absolute minimum. If communities are involuntarily relocated to pave way for tourism development projects, we urge the government to follow the principles laid down in the National Involuntary Resettlement Policy, at not more than 10 minutes walking distance and in full respect of all their human rights.

Recommendations to Tourism Businesses and Investors

  1. Malima Hospitality Services must compensate the evictees for land on which the hotel premises are built on and for the losses the community has experienced since its eviction in 2010. 
  2. We expect national and international tourism businesses to take the necessary due diligence measures in order to avoid human rights violations through their direct and indirect business activity along the supply chain in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. 
  3. Tour operators must be cognisant of the post-conflict situation in Sri Lanka, and pay special attention to the vulnerability of local communities and their land rights in their human right impact assessments. They must ensure that the hotels and resorts they work with are not built on illegally acquired land and that the local population has access to resources such as water and food, and that human rights are respected throughout all spheres of business activity and along the entire supply chain.
  4. Investors must make sure that prior to the construction of hotels and tourism infrastructure the local population is consulted on an equal footing, has given its approval and that a binding agreement has been negotiated with the affected parties concerning mutual obligations. 

Legal Background supporting Evidences of Violations of Human Rights

International Covenants
  • Article 11 (1) of International Covenant on Economic Social Cultural Rights (ICESCR) , acceded by the Sri Lanka on 11 June 1980. Under Article 11 (1) ICESCR, all authorities, including local authorities, are therefore obliged to refrain from the practice of forced evictions, and to prevent third parties, including private companies, from carrying out forced evictions. The Commission on Human Rights has also indicated that "forced evictions are a gross violation of human rights"; the relocation can only be justified, as described in General Comments n. 4 and 7, under very exceptional circumstances, with the agreement and throughout meaningful consultation with all those affected and adequate compensation for the loss of homes and land.
  • Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) , ratified by Sri Lanka on 12 July 1991: “States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programs, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing”;
  • Art. 14. 2 (h) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ratified by Sri Lanka on 05 Oct 1981: States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right:.. To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.
  • Art. 8-9 of Inquiry procedure under the Optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women , ratified by Sri Lanka on 5 October 2002

National Laws and Policies

Constitution of Sri Lanka
  • Article 12 (1)  - All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law.
Sri Lankan Courts have held that all arbitrary actions of the executive and administrative arms of Government violate the right to equality.
The Government has committee a number of arbitrary actions in evicting the Paanama community from their lands. See details below.[1]
  • Article 12 (2)  – No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one of such grounds.
  • Article 14 (1) (g) – Every citizen is entitled to the freedom to engage by himself or in association with others in any lawful occupation, profession, trade, business or enterprise.
  • Article 14A – Every citizen shall have the right of access to any information as provided by law, being information that is required for the exercise or protection of a citizen’s right[2] .
State Lands (Recovery of Possession) Act No. 7 of 1979
This Act provides for the recovery of possession of State lands to the government. Provisions of this law was not made use of in taking over the Paanama lands to the military.
Land Acquisition Act No. 9 of 1950
Provides for the acquisition of private lands by the Government. The procedure laid down in this Act should be applied in taking over State lands in respect of which permits or land grants have been given. However, this was not followed in taking over the lands in Paanama for which state land permits have been given[3] .
National Involuntary Resettlement Policy (approved by the Cabinet in 2001)
Scope: Policy applies to all development induced land acquisitions or recovery of possession by the State. Requires a comprehensive Resettlement Action Plan where 20 or more families are affected.
Key principles: involuntary resettlement should be avoided or reduced as much as possible by reviewing alternatives to the project and alternatives within the project; if involuntary resettlement is unavoidable, affected people should be assisted to re-establish themselves, affected persons to be fully involved in the selection of relocation sites, livelihood compensation and development options; replacement land to be an option for compensation in case of loss of land; compensation for loss of land and other assets and income[4] .

Judicial Pronouncements by national judicial and quasi-judicial bodies

Court of Appeal Case No. CA 352/2016
Even after the Cabinet decision was taken to return the lands to the community, Government served Quit Notices on the community and filed action in the Magistrate’s Court to evict them. This case was filed by the community members seeking Writs of Certiorari to quash the decision of the Government to serve Quit Notices and file action to evict them. The Petitioners also sought a Writ of Mandamus compelling the Government to take steps to implement the Cabinet decision. Court of Appeal issued notices on the Government authorities and fixed the case for argument. Considering this step of the Court of Appeal, the Magistrate’s Court case was laid by until the final determination of the Court of Appeal case. 
Magistrate’s Court of Pottuvil Case No. 8455/PC/09
Consequent to an application filed by the Police to prevent the community from entering their lands, the Pottuvil Magistrate’s Court initially made an interim order prohibiting the community from entering their lands. However, after hearing the submissions made on behalf of the community members, the Magistrate’s Court held that the right to life is one of the important rights and that no law will permit the refusal of this right. Court refused to extend the interim order and permitted the community to enter the lands.
Human Rights Commission Complaint No. HRC/AM/105/10/B/OT
The Human Rights Commission arrived at the conclusion officers of the Sri Lanka Police attached to the Pottuvil Police Station wrongfully and unlawfully, without any legal authority had prevented the villagers from returning to their homes which were destroyed by the unidentified armed gang in October 2010. The Human Rights Commission recommended that the Complainants be given land for cultivation or be granted compensation.

Administrative Decisions

Cabinet Decision of 11.02.2015
Cabinet of Ministers decided to release the lands under the control of the Air Force in Paanama to landless people in the area except the land in extent of 25 acres in which buildings are constructed .

The International Alliance of Inhabitants

The IAI is a global network of grassroots associations of inhabitants, communities and social movements. It has been holding International Tribunals on Evictions since 2004. This year’s tribunal takes the "International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017" as an occasion to focus on tourism-related displacement and evictions. It is linked to the Transforming Tourism initiative that places tourism in the context of the 2030 Agenda. The tribunal also marks the opening of the World Zero Evictions Days which will happen throughout the month of October.
For further informations:
Soha Ben Slama, Coordinator of the International Tribunal on Evictions (ITE),  
Cesare Ottolini, International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI),    
[1]  Arbitrary actions on the part of the Government include:
The Military arbitrarily acted in forcefully evicting the people from their lands which they occupied for 40 years;
In doing so, the Sri Lankan government arbitrarily refrained from resorting to legal procedures in acquiring land for government purposes;
The Government arbitrarily continued to arbitrarily hold these lands without returning them to the community;
Due to arbitrary actions of the Government, the community was prevented from returning to their lands for over 6 years and the community remain displaced;
The Government arbitrarily delayed the returning of the lands – causing loss of livelihood and disruption to lives
The Government arbitrarily refused to comply with the cabinet decision and have acted in contravention of the decisions of the Magistrate’s Court and Human Rights Commission;
[2]  Enabling legislation is the Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016.


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