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Library BURMA: Draft land law denies basic rights to farmers

BURMA: Draft land law denies basic rights to farmers

BURMA: Draft land law denies basic rights to farmers

Resource information

Date of publication
October 2011
Resource Language
ISBN / Resource ID

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission...

During the second sitting of the new semi-elected parliament in Burma this year, the
government submitted a draft land law. The government gazette published the draft on
September 16, and it is currently still before the parliament.
Burma needs a new land law. The current legislation on land, either for reasons of content
or because of institutional factors, lacks coherence. It is ineffectual in protecting the rights
of cultivators. With the rise and rise of private businesses linked to serving and former army
officers and bureaucrats, the incidence of land grabbing also is fast increasing, and is bound
to increase even more dramatically in the next few years. Although a new law would not
stop or perhaps even slow land grabbing of its own accord, one protecting cultivators' rights
and situating powers of review over land regulations and cases in the hands of the judiciary
and independent agencies could at least set some clear benchmarks against which to
measure actual practices, and establish some groundwork for minimum institutional
Unfortunately, the draft bill before parliament is not the law that Burma needs. In fact, it is
precisely the opposite of what the country needs. Rather than protecting cultivators' rights,
it undercuts them at practically every point, through a variety of provisions aimed at
enabling rather than inhibiting land grabbing. It invites takeover of land with government
authorization for the purpose of practically any activity, not merely for other forms of
cultivation. Under the draft, farmers could be evicted to make way for the construction of
polluting factories, power lines, roads and railways, pipelines, fun parks, condominiums
and whatever else government officials claim to be in "the national interest"...

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