CPA: Trincomalee HSZ violates international law

[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 June 2008, 01:00 GMT]
Asserting that "sustainable solutions are required to reduce tension, discrimination and deprivation of communities," the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a Colombo-based political, humanitarian think-tank, in a report on the current status of issues related to land in Trincomalee, said that, "[u]nfortunately, the various policies adopted by the authorities have had the opposite effect." Noting that 7,338 people will lose their homes due the 'reduced' High Security Zone (HSZ), the report said, "a serious review needs to be taken of the necessity of incorporating such a large extent of land into the HSZ."

The CPA undertook a visit to areas in Trincomalee including newly resettled areas in May 2008 to examine the question of the High Security Zone (HSZ) and other related land issues. The report, authored by Bhavani Fonseka and Mirak Raheem, details CPA's findings, and was released last month.

PDF IconGoogle map of Trincomalee HSZ
Pointing out the importance of land and property, as the means of generating a livelihood, and also as an indicator of one's status and wealth, the report said, the land continues to be "intrinsically linked to ethnic conflict," and has been historically impacted by Sri Lanka Governments' "land colonization schemes such as Galoya and Mahaweli schemes, arbitrary seizure of land, and the eviction of residents such as the Muslims by the LTTE in the 1990."

Trincomalee HSZ
Trincomalee HSZ
"Principles of good governance, such as subsidiarity, participation, transparency, and accountability" are lacking in many cases, the report said, adding, "this has led to mismanagement, duplication, delays and corruption.

"The 13th amendment to the constitution provides that land be devolved to the Provincial Councils, but state land and land policy remains centralized," the report pointed out.

"Our armed forces have captured Sampur for the welfare and benefit of the people living there," the reported quoted Sri Lanka's President Rajapakse as saying after the capture of Sampur in September 2006. "Over the successive months, however, the displaced people from areas in and bordering Sampur were not allowed to resettle on account of security claims including that the land needed mining," the report noted.

The establishment of HSZ is a violation of international humanitarian law, the report said, adding, "IDPs have the right to voluntary return to their land in safety and dignity. International law further provides that no person be subjected to arbitrary and unlawful interference with his privacy, family and home."

The report concluded with a set of recommendations, including the need to "ensure that as many people as possible can return to their original lands and property," and that "the HSZ should be time specific and tied to the continuation of the conflict, which would allow people to retain their property so they could reclaim it when the war ends."


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External Links:
Google: Map of Trincomalee High Security Zone by CPA


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