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Friday, August 2, 2013

Rights groups demand amendment of CHT Land Commission Act as per agreed 13 point amendment proposals

Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum, Sampriti Manch and Jana Udyog demanded amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act of 2001 as per 13 point recommendations of CHT Regional Council and CHT Affairs Ministry which were also endorsed by CHT Accord Implementation Committee and Inter-ministerial Meeting held on 30 July 2012 with the Law Minister in the chair.
 The three rights organisations raised this demand in a press conference organised at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity in Dhaka on 28 June 2013. General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Mr. Sanjeeb Drong moderated the conference while teacher of Dhaka University and member-secretary of Sampriti Manch Dr. Sourav Shikder, on behalf of three rights organisations, read out a written statement of the rights organisations. Besides, eminent columnist and researcher Mr. Syed Abul Moqsud, eminent theatre activist Mr. Mamunur Rashid, executive director of IED Mr. Numan Ahmad Khan, chairperson of Kapaeeng Foundation and Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Mr. Rabindranath Soren and teacher of Dhaka University Mr. Shantunu Majumder were present in this press conference. In the written statement, Dr. Sourav Shikder said that in order to amend contradictory provisions of the CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act of 2001, on 27 May 2013 the Land Ministry placed a draft amendment bill titled “CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act (Amendment) Bill 2013” before the Cabinet and accordingly on 3 June 2013 the Cabinet approved this amendment Bill. Again, on 16 June 2013 the amendment Bill of 2013 has been introduced in the Parliament for adoption. The Parliament sent it to the Parliamentary Stating Committee on the Land Ministry for review. The leaders of these three rights organizations expressed their concerns as the said Amendment Bill of 2013 was not framed as per 13 point recommendations mentioned-above. However, they welcomed government of Bangladesh for properly incorporation of 10 amendment proposal, out of the 13, in the “CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act (Amendment) Bill 2013”. They also opined that eight amendment proposals have been placed in conformity with the 13-point proposals. The most crucial issues of the eight provisions were dropping of autocratic and undemocratic power of Commission’s chairman (which stipulates that ‘in case decision is not unanimous his decision shall be treated as the decision of the Commission’) and giving priority to the indigenous persons in appointing secretary, officers and employees of the Commission. Side by side, they expressed dissatisfactions saying that two important proposals have not been incorporated properly. They further added that there were more three important provisions which were totally excluded in the Amendment Bill of 2013. The rights leaders of these three rights organizations are of opinion that if the “CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act (Amendment) Bill 2013” is passed in the Parliament retaining two contradictory provisions in the Act and excluding three important amendment proposals, the another problem would be created in resolving land disputes in the CHT. Even, most of the land disputes will remain unresolved or out of jurisdiction of the Land Commission. They, for the sake of smooth and proper resolution of land disputes, demanded amendment of the contradictory provisions of the Land Commission Act of 2001 as recommended by CHT Regional Council and CHT affairs ministry and as endorsed by CHT Accord Implementation Committee and Inter-ministerial meeting held on 30 July 2012. In his speech, columnist Abul Moqsud said that the CHT Accord stipulated to resolve CHT Land disputes as per existing laws, customs and practices (usages). However, the word “practices” (usages) was not included in the Amendment Bill of 2013. He added that the word “practices” is the most important in terms of land management and administration in the CHT. He said that the indigenous peoples would face injustice if the Act is amended excluding important words, such as ‘practices’. Eminent cultural activist Mamunur Rashid said that citizens of the country became hopeful with the signing of CHT Accord in 1997. But the Accord was kept unimplemented for last 15 years, he added. The State of Bangladesh could not able to turn itself into a humanitarian state. As a result, the marginalized indigenous peoples are suffering from security in all aspects. Sanjeeb Drong suggested amending the proposed Bill by incorporating the 13 point recommendations of the CHT Regional Council, CHT Accord Implementation Committee and the inter-ministerial committee. 

Kapaeeng Foundation

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