SL Government slow to return land: HRW
The Sri Lankan government has yet to fully restore civilian ownership of land and property nearly a decade since the end of the civil war in 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released today.
Progress, particularly since the election of a new government in 2015, has been hindered by broad military claims of national security and the lack of a transparent process.
The 80-page report, “‘Why Can’t We Go Home?’: Military Occupation of Land in Sri Lanka,” details security force occupation of land both during and after the armed conflict. It identifies the lack of transparency and due process, failure to map occupied land, inadequate support to affected people and communities, and prolonged delays in providing appropriate reparations for decades of loss and suffering. The military has also used some confiscated lands for commercial profit rather than national security and returned damaged or destroyed property to owners without compensation.
“All those displaced during Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war are entitled to return to their homes,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “Despite repeated pledges by the authorities, the military has been frustratingly slow to restore land to its rightful owners.”
The report is based on over 100 interviews between August 2017 to May 2018 with members of affected communities, activists, local officials, and lawyers. It looks into cases of military occupation and land release in 20 areas in six districts, primarily in Sri Lanka’s north and east.