Land is an imperative and crucial factor in the social, cultural and economic identity of the people in Sri Lanka due to the importance it has been given throughout our history. Moreover, the rights and interests over land are unequivocally and legally secured without any discrimination on the basis of gender, caste, religious or ethnic lines for its peaceful enjoyment and for the economic development of the people and the country. The complex nature of the legal system, administrative regulations and procedural aspects and practices related to land have resulted in much inconsistency, confusion as well as discrimination of women and communities in respect of their land rights. The variety and inconsistencies of different personal laws, national policies and regulations have contributed in worsening this discrimination. These discriminatory aspects have its roots in colonization or age old religious and communal beliefs. Due to the lack of amendment and legal reform these aspects are still applicable. In this background it is ironic how the legal and justice systems itself have become a breeding ground for injustice, inequality and explicit discrimination.
In the local context, being a multi ethnic and multi religious country, there are many laws, rules and regulations that govern the land rights, administration and management of land and property in Sri Lanka, including customary laws (personal laws/special laws) of the country. This Study is based on the premise that the legal system and the administrative rules, procedural aspects and practices on land have led to complexity, and more specifically on the inconsistent and discriminatory laws and rules with regard to gender and communities land rights. Due to such unfair policies, procedures and laws related to land, which are inconsistent with fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the international norms and standards, the local land law has become the breeding ground for many injustices and discriminative practices. In this background it is necessary to assess the existing national policies, laws and administrative practices relating to land in Sri Lanka in order to provide a better, conducive and responsive environment to protect and uphold land and property rights.
Therefore, it is of great importance to rectify this situation by identifying and removing such legal restraints and replacing them with clear, precise and reasonable laws and practices. In order to identify the flaws and vacuums in the legal system which makes way for such injustice, it is crucial to consult the women and the members of the communities who are governed by such laws and practices. The Study proposes suggestions and recommendations for greater deal of policy reforms and an advocacy strategy to do that.
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The Institute for Constitutional Studies (ICS) was originally set up in 2007. ICS has been working on constitutional and governance issues since its inception.
Develop the capacity of Public Officials, Civil Society Activists and General Public on democratic governance to achieve good governance, inclusive government and accountability