Friday, August 21, 2009

Visit to Bangladesh.

10 days in Dhaka and the CHT, as co-chair of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission. Between us we visited all three districts - Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachuri -where we called on the Brigade Commanders, met civil society, and talked to people in the villages, both Adivasi and Bengali.

Then in Dhaka we were received by the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, chairman of the Land Commission etc, and met MPs, NGOs, the diplomatic community and many others.

Some progress is being made with the creation of institutions that are necessary if the Peace Accord is to be fully implemented. The Land Commission is critical because it has the task of acting in a judicial capacity to determine the rightful occupiers of land, and there are literally thousands of cases to unscramble. The Commission hasn't started to recruit the legally qualified staff they will need, or to consider what premises they will require for the hearing of evidence. All of the steps that have to be taken, including the formulation of rules for deciding on the relative weight to be given to customary titles, where there is no documentary evidence, and grants by the District Commissioner of the same piece of land from the late 70s onward, have to be fitted into a timed strategic plan which is not yet even being considered.

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