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National Action Plan:

Blueprint for unity and prosperity



A brighter future awaits Northern children

The Action Plan for the implementation of LLRC recommendations published last week is continued below. The Sunday Observer carried the proposals in the Action Plan under the themes ‘International Humanitarian Law issues’ and ‘Human Rights’. Today the actions to be implemented under ‘Land Return and Resettlement’ and ‘Restitution/Compensatory Relief’ will be published.Land Return and Resettlement Upholding the LLRC recommendation 9.124 that ‘any citizen of Sri Lanka has the right to acquire land in any part of the country, in accordance with its laws and regulations, and reside in any area of his/her choice without any restrictions or limitations’, the Action plan has directed a study by the Ministry of Lands, with specific reference to North and the East, to ascertain whether current practices infringe on legal rights to acquire land with a view to clear if any.

It has also suggested effective implementations of the policy on land use with the aim of identifying state land for settlements.

The Ministry of Lands have also been entrusted with formulating a policy to deal with the issue of settlements to endorse the LLRC recommendation that private lands would not be utilized for settlements by any Government agency.

Terms of Reference

To ensure that the land policy of the Government is not an instrument to effect unnatural changes in the demographic pattern of a given Province, the Action plan has suggested the establishment of 4th Land Commission to recommend policy to address existing issues. Previously Land Commissions were appointed in 1927, 1936 and 1985. The 4th Land Commission will also be governed by the same Terms of Reference.

The 4th Land Commission has been tasked with considering thefeasibility of implementing the following recommendations of the LLRC and implement the activities in keeping with the findings of the Commission within 24 months.

Recommendation 9.126 which refers to conducting a publicity campaign to assure returning IDPs that the program to be implemented, seek to give land to returnees as soon as possible, and is not a substitute for recourse to the courts of law where people are in possession of valid legal proof of their claim to the land in question. The key responsible agency is the Ministry of Lands.

Another recommendation is to supervise civil administration officers tasked with the implementation of the Program by respective Government Agents and monitor implementation quality at the national level by the Land Commissioner General. (recmm 9.129)Organize a well-planned media seminar enable the Media to project an accurate and clear view of the Program (9.131)Confine the participation of security forces officers to expediting the release of maximum extents of lands being utilized for security purposes (9.134)Organize and hold a ‘Community Consultation Meeting’ in each District Secretariat area prior to the launch of the First Committee investigation process, giving it wide coverage to ensure maximum participation from members of the community.

Establish a mechanism to rapidly consider constructive suggestions made through this process (9.135, 136)The Ministry of Lands have also been directed to ensure strictenforcement of the ministry circular provisions that preventalienation of state land other than for IDPs, until a proposed program is implemented.In response to the recommendation 9.141, ‘actively seek thecooperation of a development partner to support the Programme, based on the understanding that Government of Sri Lanka will be responsible for Programme policy, decision making, and implementation’ the action plan has directed to evaluate the need for the support of an external partner and secure assistance as appropriate, if feasible.


Resettlement is being completed in the Northern Province

Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Resettlement and Department of National Planning has been entrusted with formulating a report with a project proposal, if needed within three months.The recommendation 9.142 which call on the Government to ‘review the 2 existing HSZs in Palaly and Trincomalee-Sampur, as well as small extents of private land currently utilized for security purposes, with a view to release more land while keeping national security needs in perspective.

Compensation

As for completing the provision of alternate lands and or payment of compensation within a specific time frame’, a review has already been completed. Ministries of Defence and Lands have been directed to release lands to the owners where possible and take steps to re-locate (within 6 months) or to pay compensation acting under applicable Statutes (Land Acquisition Act) within three years.On the LLRC recommendation to expedite work on National Land Commission, the Action plan directs Presidential Secretariat and the Lands Ministry to include this in the Terms of Reference of the PSC with a view to receive recommendations.

The timeline is to be confirmed in due course.In reference to the recommendation 9.151 - develop a land use plan for each district in the North and East with the participation of district and national experts drawn from various relevant disciplines to guide the district administration in land conservation and alienation, the Action Plan says necessary resources should be provided to the Ministry of Lands to carry out the proposal that is to see completion within 36 months.

The key responsible agencies are Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Public Administration and Ministry of Lands.

The above recommendation strives to ensure the protection of environment and bio-diversity, sustainable economic development, leisure and recreational standards, religious, cultural, and archaeological sites with a view to improving the quality of life of the present and future generations.

The Land Use Plan for the North and East is to be developed in line with the Land Use Policy adopted in 2007.For the recommendation 9.155 - Review the role and capacity ofRehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority(REPPIA) with a view to streamlining and augmenting its role andresources in undertaking post-conflict requirements [for compensatory relief].

The Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prisons Reforms is to examine the issues that affect the effective implementation of the REPIA and take appropriate action to deal with issues identified.

Identification process

In order to ensure LLRC recommendation ‘funding to clear the backlog of cases and prevent delays and no payment in future due to lack of funds, set a time limit for completion of payments’ is met, Finance and Planning Ministry has been directed to provide funds for payment of compensation based on an acceptable victim identification process.

The Ministry of Resettlement and Presidential Task Force for N & E will continue with the ongoing Government program for therehabilitation and re-integration of ex-combatants and thereconciliation program for the next of kin to ensure recommendation 9.164 which says to ‘take a decision on compensatory relief for death and injury for those involved with the LTTE’ is met. The program grants relief to those next of kin affected by death or injury as a direct result of the conflict. This process is to be completed within 24 months.

Next week: Reconciliation

 

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