- Report of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on its tenth session
Friday, July 29, 2011
POSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF REGARDING THE LACK OF LOCUS STANDI (LEGAL STANDING) OF THE UN PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES TO DEAL WITH ISSUES OF THE HILL TRACTS ACCORD OF 1997
14. Social and human rights questions
(h) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Statement prepared by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), an ECOSOC-accredited organization, Bangladesh
We are gravely concerned with the recent efforts taken by our honorable Foreign Minister to educate diplomats, foreign officials and media editors, on the ‘indigenous’ people of Bangladesh. The Government’s steps are misleading and highly derogatory.
In recent months, the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) is also known to have challenged and questioned the locus standi or legal standing of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) to deal with issues related to the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord of 1997 on the ground that the peoples of the CHT are not indigenous.
The GOB is reportedly going to request the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) - the parent body of the UNPFII – (i) to “delete paragraphs 102(a) and 103 of the tenth session of the UNPFII”; (ii) to “drop mentioning of the term ‘indigenous peoples’ from Para 102(c) and (d) as they are not indigenous peoples’”; (iii) to “scrutinize the procedural aspects of (asking for such a study) the Report by PFII as well as the contents of the report; and (iv) to refrain from “adopting” and/or “endorsing” the report of the UNPFII.
The above stand of the GOB is without lawful basis and discriminatory towards the indigenous peoples of the CHT, on the following, among other grounds:
1. That, irrespective of the terminology used in the laws of Bangladesh to refer to the indigenous peoples of the CHT, it is established beyond doubt that the peoples of the CHT are indigenous in accordance with the provisions of the ILO Convention No. 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Populations, which was ratified by Bangladesh in June, 1972;
2. That the indigenous peoples of the CHT are referred to as ‘indigenous’ in several legal instruments, governmental policy documents and judicial pronouncements, including: (a) the CHT Regulation, 1900; (b) the Finance Acts of 1995 and 2010; (c) the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP-2008, 2010); (d) a judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Bangladesh in Sampriti Chakma v. Commissioner of Customs & Others (5 BLC, AD, 29).
Therefore, the members of ECOSOC are kindly urged to adhere to the international norms of non-discrimination and refrain from accepting the position and request of the GOB as mentioned in paragraphs above. It is reiterated that the UNPFII is absolutely within its mandate on indigenous issues to deal with the CHT Accord of 1997 and other issues of the indigenous peoples of the CHT and other parts of Bangladesh.
1. According to ILO Convention, article 1(b) ‘’members of tribal or semi-tribal populations in independent countries which are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonisation and which, irrespective of their legal status, live more in conformity with the social, economic and cultural institutions of that time than with the institutions of the nation to which they belong.’’
The original statement can be downloaded from the following link:
Posted by CHT NEWS UPDATE at 11:33 AM