Practice Relating to Rule 133. Property Rights of Displaced Persons
Section C. Return of property or compensation
In 2012, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence issued a press release entitled “Allow Sri Lanka’s efforts at reconciliation to proceed unimpeded – Minister Samarasinghe at UNHCR, ‘No justification or urgency for resolution to implement LLRC recommendations’”, which stated:
In the 2 years and 9 months since the end of the armed conflict against terrorism and the onset of peace, Sri Lanka has made significant progress towards recovery and achieving reconciliation, by incrementally overcoming many challenges posed to the nation and its people by almost 30 years of conflict. …
… As you know, the [Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation] Commission has now delivered on its mandate and submitted its report, including a series of recommendations, to the President of Sri Lanka. …
In particular, the Commission's recommendations about the formulation of a land use plan for each district in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and, as a longer term initiative, the establishment of a National Land Commission for the country as a whole, require further study and careful planning. … A Land Task Force was established at provincial and district levels to deal with land issues and to seek expeditious solutions, and is further evidence of our efforts. I may also add that the Government is firmly resolved to ensure that all those who have been dispossessed of their lands, are afforded the opportunity to return to the lands they once owned.
In 2012, in a section entitled “Theme area: Human Rights” of its National Plan of Action to Implement the Recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, which also includes a section entitled “Theme area: International Humanitarian Law Issues”, Sri Lanka’s Government stated:
9.104 – Grant the legal ownership of land to those (IDPs) [internally displaced persons] who have been resettled.
Continue implementation of circular which provides for grant of ownership.
In 2012, in its fifth periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, Sri Lanka stated:
59. With the termination of military operations and the gradual restoration of normality, the strength of the military in the North has been reduced considerably …
60. The former High Security Zones (HSZs) have ceased to exist. The Palaly cantonment is now the only area in which some security restrictions remain, but even within the Cantonment, civilians have unrestricted access to the airport at Palaly and the Kankesanthurai harbour.
61. While it is true that there are still some civilian properties included in the Cantonment, it must be stressed that civilians have not occupied these properties for the last twenty to twenty-five years. The Government has taken measures to pay compensation to the owners of these properties and to provide alternate land to them. It should also be noted that lands that had been forcefully taken from the people and occupied by the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] for many years have also been released to their legal owners. The former HSZ in the Eastern Province located in the Sampur area from 2007 has been reduced in extent by 65% and declared a Licensed Zone under the Board of Investment. The IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] from this area who are to be resettled will be granted alternative land or compensation.