Two organisations and rights activists working on land issues in the North of Sri Lanka have written this week to the Jaffna District Secretary, Kanapathypillai Mahesan raising concerns on the attempts to collect information of private landowners in the district.
The People’s Alliance for Right to Land (PARL), an organisation assisting civil society representatives and communities struggling to return to their lands in the letter said that they are concerned regarding the letter dated 26th August, sent by Mahesan requesting information from displaced families who own private lands that are currently under the occupation of the military or police.
PARL observed that many of these owners have provided the same information in the past to various authorities expecting the return of their land but to no avail.
The organisation also noted that the letter by Mahesan had cited no deadline for the submission of the requested information despite the website noting the deadline as September 15, less than a month from the date of the letter.
The organisation pointed out that the owners have found it difficult to submit the required information within that time frame due to the Covid-19 lockdown and other ongoing restrictions.
It also highlighted the lack of clarity on the purpose of collecting this information, which has created doubts among the people on the process, and increased their fears of there being new and further attempts by the military to occupy more lands.
The organisation said it requests the authorities to look into how information already provided by families can be utilised for the release of lands, and to also extend the submission deadline.
PARL also urged Mahesan to develop a more transparent and collaborative process, with the participation of local government authorities, government officers and civil society organisations to build awareness among the people about this process, and facilitate them to provide the necessary information.