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SOURCE: The Hindu

The Prime Minister made the announcement during the course of his monthly radio broadcast to the nation — 'Mann ki Baat' or straight from the heart. Photos: Ranjeet Kumar and V. Sudershan

The Prime Minister made the announcement during the course of his monthly radio broadcast to the nation — ‘Mann ki Baat’ or straight from the heart. Photos: Ranjeet Kumar and V. Sudershan

Government will include 13 points to reform the law, says Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday declared that the Land Acquisition Ordinance which his government had thrice promulgated would be allowed to lapse on August 31.

A political setback to the NDA government, the lapsing of the ordinance was immediately claimed as a victory by the Congress. Party president Sonia Gandhi, in Patna for a rally, termed it “the victory of the farmers over a government that has worked against the interests of the farmers.”

The Prime Minister made the announcement during the course of his monthly radio broadcast to the nation — ‘Mann ki Baat’ or straight from the heart.

“Tomorrow [Monday] the Land Bill will lapse and I have agreed to it. The government will not repromulgate ordinance, but will include 13 points to reform the land acquisition law to benefit farmers,” he said. These 13 points, he said, “meant to provide direct financial benefit to the farmers, are being brought under the rules effective from today so that farmers do not face financial loss.”

The reference was to Acts such as the Highways Act and the Railways Act which would be tagged onto the Land Acquisition Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

‘Open to suggestions’

The Prime Minister said “rumours” had been spread about the Land Acquisition Bill leading to a scare among farmers. “We do not want that… The government is open to any suggestion in the interest of farmers,” he said.

The Congress and other Opposition parties had vehemently opposed the ordinance terming certain clauses in it like the removal of the necessity of a social impact assessment report while acquiring certain kinds of land as being arbitrary and anti-farmer. Despite efforts by the government to explain its position, the Opposition’s campaign appeared more effective, and the Centre decided to cut its losses before the Bihar polls.

Retorting to the Prime Minister’s comments, Ms. Gandhi said in Patna: “This is an anti-farmer government, they want to take land away from farmers and give it to a few of their rich industrialist friends. Today that government had to concede to our agitation against the land ordinance.”

The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) also claimed victory and said it would take out “victory rallies.”

BJP president Amit Shah “welcomed” the lapsing of the ordinance as a pro-farmer move.

“This step is taken in favour of farmers. I welcome this and thank the Prime Minister,” Mr. Shah said.

Panel report awaited

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley too termed it as a step “entirely in the interest of farmers.” He added that the government would wait for the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee due in the winter session.

SOURCE: UN Special Rapporteur

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In March 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council requested the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, to prepare a compilation of practical recommendations for the proper management of assemblies based on best practices and lessons learned (read the full document, resolution 25/38). The compilation is scheduled to be submitted to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-first session in March 2016.

In early 2015, Kiai and Heyns officially launched a special project to fulfill the Council’s request. Throughout the better part of 2015, the Special Rapporteurs and their teams will be traveling to various regions of the world to solicit input from UN Member States and various stakeholders (including the general public) on best practices for the proper management of assemblies.

The Special Rapporteurs have also created a questionnaire to solicit input from States, relevant United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, other relevant special procedures mandate holders, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders – such as practitioners and the general public – to help produce the practical recommendations. The questionnaire (available at right in English, French and Spanish) aims to elicit the views from these stakeholders on the proper management of assemblies, and specifically to identify national, regional and international practices and lessons learned (both positive and negative).

This page is the online hub for the project – hosting information on the project, the questionnaire, news about consultations, and more.

Questionnaires: Contribute to the project

The Special Rapporteurs have created a questionnaire to help produce the practical recommendations for the proper management of peaceful assemblies worldwide. The questionnaire aims to elicit the views of relevant stakeholders on the proper management of assemblies, and specifically to identify national, regional and international practices and lessons learned (both positive and negative).

Link to the questionnaire in English
Link to the questionnaire in French
Link to the questionnaire in Spanish

Responses will be accepted through September 1, 2015.

SOURCE: European Parliament Committees

Ecuadorian ethnic women in national clothes selling agricultural products and other food items on a market in the Gualaceo village

On the occasion of EXPO Milan 2015 on the theme of “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life” and in the context of the European Year for Development 2015,the Committee on Development of the European Parliament (DEVE) is organising a panel debate in the EU pavilion in Milan on the topic of “human rights,right to food and land rights – what legal instruments are needed?”.

The Committee is sponsoring a call for research papers and essays on the topic of the event: Human rights, right to food and landrights.

This call for papers is open to students currently enrolled in a universityprogramme in the field of development studies, human rights, law or politicalsciences, agriculture, environment, regional studies, etc.

Based on the submissions, two students may be invited to present their papersat the DEVE panel debate at EXPO Milan on 15 October 2015.

The deadline for submission of papers is 31 August 2015 at 10:00 CET.

SOURCE: Kapaeeng Foundation

The tourism business in the indigenous territories was destroying lifestyle of the indigenous peoples by violating their property and human rights. The land acquired for implementing tourism projects end up depriving indigenous people of their traditional croplands and in some cases lead to eviction of people from their homes. The tourism industry has appeared more as a threat to indigenous peoples’ cultural integrity and to their right to the land and forest rather than an economic opportunity, speakers told a roundtable on “Tourism and Development in Indigenous Territories: Partnership of Indigenous Peoples and Roles of the Government’ held on 20 August 2015 at CIRDAP Auditorium in Dhaka.

Displaying IMG_4429.JPG

The roundtable jointly organised by Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, ActionAid Bangladesh and Kapaeeng Foundation highlighted on the burning human rights issues facing indigenous peoples as a result of proliferation of tourism in indigenous territories of Bangladesh.

Mr. Rashed Khan Menon, MP and Honourable Minister of Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism was present in the roundtable as Chief Guest while it was presided over by Mr. .Rabidranath Soren, Chairperson, Kapaeeng Foundation and Jatiya Adivasi Parishad. Dr. Sadeka Halim, Former Information Commissioner and Professor, University of Dhaka; Mr. Sadhuram Tripura, Member, Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council (CHTRC); Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum and Mr. Robaet Ferdous, Associate Professor, University of Dhaka also addressed the roundtable. Mr.Mangal Kumar Chakma, Advisor of Kapaeeng Foundation delivered the keynote paper on “Tourism and Development in Indigenous Territories: Partnership of Indigenous Peoples and Role of the Government” while Ms. Farah Kabir, Country Director, ActionAid Bangladesh moderated the roundtable.

Mr. Rashed Khan Menon said, there are initiatives to engage CHT Regional Council and three Hill District Councils (HDC) in order to develop tourism in the CHT in accordance with the CHT Accord. There is a clash between the Government, and the CHTRC and indigenous peoples in this regard. This issue has to be addressed through dialogue.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister, Mr. Menon, mentioned that the main problem in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is land problem. There have been initiatives undertaken to amend the contradictory provisions of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act. However, it is a matter of regret that the Act has not been amended properly yet. An important provision of the CHT Accord is dismantling of temporary military and paramilitary camps – neither there has been much progress in this regard. For all these reasons, a sense of lack of confidence has grown among indigenous peoples. While introduction and expansion of tourism in indigenous territories, the culture and way of life of indigenous peoples must be taken into consideration. While starting-up tourism in any area, the engagement and incorporation of the locals including indigenous peoples should be given paramount importance. But the reality is different. As a result of lack of these, the Mro people were evicted as the Nilgiri Resort in Bandaran was built. If the tourism can be done in the forms such as eco-tourism and community-based tourism, it would contribute to the economy of Bangladesh and may create many employments.

Former Information Commissioner Dr. Sadeka Halim said, while discussing about tourism, we have to raise some questions – how do we sight the lands in the hill tracts? Who does the land belong to where the tourist spots have been set up? The land where the Nilgiri Resort is situated nowonce belonged to the Mro people. When victim Mro people protested against setting up of the resort, they were intimidated and tortured. This is how the tourist spots have been set up in the CHT. Wherever a tourist spots is set-up, the leadership of indigenous peoples in relation to that tourists pot should be ensured. Tourism, a subject of the CHT Accord, has not been transferred to the HDCs in accordance with the CHT Accord.

Ms. Farah Kabir opined that the engagement of the indigenous peoples in tourism development in their areas should be ensured to protect nature, forests and life of the minorities.

Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum General Secretary Mr. Sanjeeb Drong said, the existing idea of tourism is a shallow concept that represents nothing but a vague representation of indigenous peoples in some concrete infrastructure, where indigenous knowledge are ignored and indigenous peoples are deprived of the benefits come out of it. While establishing tourist spots in indigenous territories, people of that soil should be involved. Tourism has to be such that will not harm the culture, education, health and traditional systems of indigenous peoples. He said, tourism projects should have indigenous partnership, they should also not disturb the ecology of the area. Building wide roads through the forest and constructing fancy houses cannot be tourism.

CHTRC Member, Mr. Sadhuram Tripura, said, as per the CHT Accord, the CHTRC Act and three HDC Act have been enacted. The Tourism Department has been transferred to the HDCs alongside other subjects. However, ironically, the Tourism Department has not been transferred properly. Although the CHTRC wants to work in cooperation with all, the Government doesn’t seem wants to do so. The voices of indigenous peoples should be heard while introducing or expanding tourism in indigenous territories.

DU Associate Professor, Mr. Robaet said, indigenous peoples are being evicted from their ancestral lands in the name of tourism; their populations are being exterminated. There will be no proper tourism, if the tourism is based on the philosophy of destruction of the nature and it is not for the development of the locals. There are a good number of hills in the CHT that are named after the names of military and civil bureaucrats. This politics of destroying the tradition, culture of indigenous peoples through erasing the names of lands given by indigenous peoples will not bring any positive consequences.

The Chair of the event, Mr. Rabindranath Soren, said that the land rights issues of indigenous peoples must be taken seriously. Indigenous peoples are losing their lands and experiencing gross human rights violations due to land-related issues. If there is no land then the development will not have any sense in the long run. Alongside considering land issues, the protection of historically important sites across the country should be ensured.

Mr. Mangal Kumar Chakma said that the tourism projects are being designed and implemented without representation of indigenous people. Any programme that harms ethnic diversity, tradition and nature is unacceptable, he added.

Mr. Chakma added that the special administrative system of the CHT, composed of CHTRC and three HDCs, has not been taken into consideration while formulating the National Tourism Policy. Since there is no strongmeasure to protect the lands of indigenous peoples while planning and implementing any development project including tourism, this process is being naturalised and legitimated to uproot indigenous peoples from their lands. There should be measures for protection of indigenous culture and language potentially adversely affected by the tourism industry. In compliance with the CHT Accord, for any development affecting indigenous peoples, indigenous people and the leaders of this region must be consulted and give their full consent regarding any proposed development projects in this region.

Kapaeeng Foundation
(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801

SOURCE: REUTERS

BY CHRIS ARSENAULT

TORONTO, Aug 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Global food giants and international NGOs have drafted a framework to prevent land grabs just as hedge funds, companies and plantation owners race to acquire new territory.

Drafted by senior figures from Nestle, Unilever, Coca-Cola and other large firms, along with researchers from Oxfam, Global Witness and the other international organizations, the voluntary guidelines on responsible land acquisition were released on Monday.

Indigenous people and local farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries in recent years have seen companies push onto land they have inhabited for generations, as investors scramble to secure land rights and forest resources.

“Companies are taking greater responsibility to avoid forced evictions. They don’t want to be expelling people from their land in order to produce goods,” Jeffrey Hatcher, managing director of Indufor, a consultancy, and one of the authors of the new guide, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

‘VOLUNTARY’ PLANS

Based on the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s guidelines, the framework is designed to make it easier for companies to comply with guidelines on buying land in areas where legal systems and formal documentation over who controls territory are often murky.

The guidelines don’t just recognize formal ownership, they also back a form of squatters’ rights, where communities that have been living and working in an area for a long-period have some claim to the land, said Hatcher.

The document also provided guidance on how to handle grievances from communities that feel they were unfairly impacted by land investments, Hatcher said.

Critics, however, say the initiative does not go far enough.

“Given the devastating impact of these large-scale land acquisitions, a set of ‘voluntary’ guidelines leaves communities vulnerable to the ‘good will’ of corporations at best,” Anuradha Mittal, director of the Oakland Institute, a food rights think tank, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

The companies have not formally endorsed the document, but activists hope participation by top corporate executives will create changes on the ground in some of the world’s resource-rich, developing countries.

Unilever, a major consumer goods manufacturer, declined interview requests, but sent a statement calling land rights a “core focus area” for the firm.

The company is “developing a new Global Land Rights Policy” which it will publish later this year, a Unilever spokesperson said in an email to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Neither Nestle nor Coca-Cola responded to requests for comment before deadline.

Palm oil plantations, cattle ranches, large forestry operations, sugar cane plantations and crops grown to produce biofuels are among the largest targets land grabbers seek.

Corporations have faced “reputational risks” from activists campaigning against the land grabs, said Rodney Schmidt, deputy director of the Rights and Resources Initiative, one of the NGOs backing the new guidelines.

“But companies are also realizing they have a competitive edge if they address potential social conflicts around tenure issues upfront,” Schmidt said.

“Indigenous people and local communities are becoming more aware that they have rights under national and international legislation.”

More than 32 million hectares, an area larger than Poland, has been traded in large-scale land deals since 2000, according to a study from Sweden’s Lund University published in November.

Schmidt has seen “a major increase in demand for large-scale land acquisitions” over the past decade, much of it coming from emerging markets.

That pressure has relaxed with the recent drop in oil and other commodity prices, he said, “but the long-term trend points towards competing claims for land-based resources”. (Reporting By Chris Arsenault; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

SOURCE: AFA

The Pacific Island Farmers Organization Network (PIFON) is organizing a regional soil learning exchange to be held in Taveuni in September.

As part of this event, PIFON is also holding a media competition to promote the International Year of Soils (IYS) theme of “Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life.”

Entries can be any unpublished piece (5 min video, blog post, booklet, poster, handout, journalistic article).

The competition is open to everyone even outside the Pacific region.

Attached are the media competition flyer and rules for more details.

Click here to download the Media Competition Flyer

Click here to download the Media Competition Rules

SOURCE: Kapaeeng Foundation

Recently the government of Bangladesh undertook plan to acquire 500 acres of land belonging to tea workers for establishment of Bangladesh Economic Zones in Chunarughat upazila under Habiganj district. Around 6,000 tea workers belong to indigenous Santal community have been living on this land for generations. They will be uprooted from their ancestral land if the government plan is implemented.

Tea workers alleged that they get only Taka 69 (US$ 0.80) per day for their job. Even after that, they have been living happily because they have land to cultivate and reside in. But, as president of Chandpur Tea Garden Panchayet Committee Sadhan Santal said, there is a conspiracy to grab their ancestral land in the name of building a special economic zone.

It is worth mentioning that around 6,000 Santals are dependent on 500 acres of land of Chunarughat upazila for living and cultivation. Among them, around 1,100 Santals work at the Chandpur Tea Garden. The Santal labourers claimed that their predecessors made the land cutting hills and forests 150-200 years ago. There is a graveyard of their forefathers. They cannot give away their ancestral land.

In a discussion on “Human Rights of Tea Garden Workers and Their Socio-Economic Development” jointly organised by Indigenous Social Development Organisation and Tea Garden Workers on 2 August 2015 at National Press Club in Dhaka, the workers of Chandpur Tea Garden in Habiganj threatened that they would rather die than give up their ancestral land chosen for setting up a special economic zone. (This report has been prepared based on information collected through Kapaeeng’s networks and news of The Daily Star titled ‘Tea workers won’t give ancestral land’ published on 3 August 2015.)

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