A Rapid Assessment of Land Disputes in Northern and Eastern Provinces has been completed by the Asia Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice to study the characteristics and scale of land disputes that have evolved over a period of 30 years in the former theatre of conflict.
This assessment was undertaken to support the setting up of Special Mediation Boards, as proposed by the Ministry of Justice, to facilitate the resolution of land-related issues and disputes in the two provinces. The setting up of Special Mediation Boards addresses Recommendation 9.104 in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
The Rapid Assessment was conducted in 27 Divisional Secretariat Divisions representing all eight districts in the North and East, and the sites were selected based on the high incidence of land disputes reported, as well as the composition of Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala ethnic representation and their specific issues with regard to land.
The Assessment provides an overview of the extensive array of disputes faced by the people in the North and East. These disputes and issues are categorised into issues over state land and issues over private land. Among the issues and disputes include the loss of documents, forged land documents, the loss or destruction of land records in government land registry offices at central, provincial, district and divisional levels, secondary occupation, encroachment of reservations, land alienation by unauthorised sources and the transfer of land through false deeds. In addition, the study finds vulnerabilities faced by displaced people and female heads of households.
The Rapid Assessment is expected to provide the background for setting up of Special Mediation Boards to address land issues and disputes, and form the core of the conceptualisation, training and implementation of such Boards to bring relief to people and communities living in the post-war environment of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.
The presentation of the “Rapid Assessment of Community Level Land Disputes in North and East Provinces” took place recently in Colombo in the presence of the Secretary of the Ministry of Justice Ms. Kamalini de Silva and Justice Hector Yapa, the Chairman of the Mediation Boards Commission, among others.