This report will be discussed on the ongoing Tenth session of UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
CHT Accord Study Final
52. The continuing failure to adequately implement all the provisions of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord in a timely manner and to address developments that lead to further marginalization of the indigenous peoples is likely to enhance the prospects of renewed political instability and ethnic conflict in the region. The likelihood of such outcomes is evident from the occurrence of conflicts between settlers and indigenous peoples and violence in the post-Accord period. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that there be no further delay in the implementation of the Accord. To that end, the following recommendations to relevant stakeholders should be implemented, with the active participation of the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts:
Government of Bangladesh 53. It is recommended that the Government of Bangladesh:
(a) Declare a timeline for implementation of all provisions of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord during the remaining period of its term, outlining modalities of implementation and persons and/or institutions responsible for implementation, in consultation with the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord Implementation Committee;
(b) Facilitate the expedient settlement of land disputes by the Land Commission through the immediate amendment of the Land Dispute Settlement Commission Act of 2001, in accordance with the provisions of the Accord and the recommendations put forward by the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council;
(c) Implement a phased withdrawal of temporary military camps in the region in accordance with the Accord in order to reduce the extent of undue military control and resultant tensions and thereby restore normalcy in the region;
(d) Transfer functions normally performed by civilian agencies but now undertaken by the military, such as development projects and any other activities not requiring specific military skills, to the civil administration and to institutions set up under the Accord. Instructions should be issued, with accompanying sanctions, against military involvement in the resolution of land disputes, the maintenance of normal law and order, including check posts on roads and waterways and forest produce checkpoints, and other typical civilian activities. The Government of Bangladesh is further requested to consider the removal of unnecessary check posts and unreasonable restrictions on the activities of non-governmental organizations and foreigners;
(e) Hand over all the agreed subjects and functions, as specified in the Accord, to the Hill District Councils, with immediate effect, and take all necessary steps to ensure the full functioning of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council in its role in coordination and supervision of the general administration and development of the region and in advising the Government on legislation;
(f) Address the issue of impunity for human rights violations in the region by arranging for a high-level, independent and impartial commission of enquiry into acts of violence perpetrated against indigenous peoples that implicate the army and other law enforcement agencies, and, where sufficient evidence exists, bringing those responsible to trial and providing exemplary punishment to the perpetrators and reparations to the victims concerned;
(g) Establish legal services in the region and develop an effective public information and education programme so that victims and witnesses of human rights violations and crimes, in particular violence against women, are able to access legal remedies;
(h) Allow United Nations agencies, international, national and local human rights institutions and groups, including the international watchdog body, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission, non-governmental organizations, the press and the media, free and easy access to travel within the region, including Baghaihat and other parts of Sajek union, Baghaichari subdistrict, Rangamati district, to investigate and report on allegations of human rights violations in the region, and to continue to monitor the situation unhindered and without surveillance;
(i) Invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and other thematic special rapporteurs to assess the situation in the region;
(j) Include provisions in the Constitution of Bangladesh during its expected amendment, giving explicit recognition to the distinctive identity, culture and rights of the indigenous peoples along with ancillary safeguard provisions;
(k) Formally endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ratify ILO Convention No. 169 of 1989 and the optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and withdraw the reservations concerning certain provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
54. The Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh: Investigate alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples and other residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and publish the findings of such enquiries, along with recommendations.
55. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and international and national donors, non-governmental organizations and human rights organizations: Provide financial means and technical assistance to indigenous peoples from the Chittagong Hill Tracts to engage with intergovernmental human rights and environmental treaty bodies in relation to treaties ratified by or acceded to by Bangladesh, including ILO Convention No. 107, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
56. Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the Secretariat: Develop a mechanism to strictly monitor and screen the human rights records of national army personnel prior to allowing them to participate in peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the United Nations.
57. International donor agencies in Bangladesh: Act on their commitments to support the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord and to ensure development respecting political, economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples with the aim of promoting and protecting human rights in the region, including a strategic approach allowing for immediate as well as long-term development action.
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
58. It is recommended that the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues:
(a) Recommend that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations prevent human rights violators and alleged human rights violators within the security forces of Bangladesh from participating in international peacekeeping activities under the auspices of the United Nations. The Permanent Forum should reiterate its recommendations to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations made at its fifth session (see E/2006/43, para. 87);
(b) Recommend that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) continue its activities in Baghaihat and other places in Sajek union, Baghaichari subdistrict, Rangamati district and other relevant places in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, addressing, in particular, the education, health-care and livelihood needs of internally displaced indigenous peoples. The Forum should encourage UNDP to report to it on its work in the Chittagong Hill Tracts;
(c) Recommend that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) conduct activities on education and health care in Baghaihat and other places in Sajek union, Baghaichari subdistrict, Rangamati district, and other relevant places in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in order to address, in particular, the needs of internally displaced indigenous peoples who remain unrehabilitated and their basic needs unaddressed from the time of the signing of the Accord in 1997 to the present. The Forum should encourage UNICEF to report to the Forum on its work in the Chittagong Hill Tracts;
(d) Conduct more in-depth case and comparative studies on peace accords, with an emphasis on issues such as reasons, factors and conditions leading to the success or failure of peace accords and the impact of armed conflicts on indigenous peoples, with particular emphasis on the situation of women and children;
(e) Dedicate the special theme of its twelfth session in 2013, or a technical seminar, to peacebuilding processes, the implementation of peace agreements and conflict-prevention initiatives in indigenous peoples’ territories.