Hope flickers as civilian owners await the release of their land

Almost ten years since the end of the war, protestors in the Northern town of Keppapulavu, Mullaitivu are waiting for their land to be released by the Sri Lankan army.

Despite repeated promises, including by President Sirisena, that all remaining civil-owned land in the North and the East of Sri Lanka held by the Military would be released by the end of 2018, protestors of Keppapulavu have had little choice but to continue their protests for more than 700 days.

In 2015, the Sri Lankan government in UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution 30/1, pledged to accelerate the return of land to its rightful civilian owners. While Amnesty International welcomes the progress made on this commitment so far, we urge the government of Sri Lanka to urgently return remaining land occupied by the military, civil defence forces and other state agencies to their rightful owners.

In this endeavour it is critical that the international community, including the UNHRC in its fortieth session, reaffirm resolution 30/1 and underline the importance of the commitments therein are met in full; Maintain reporting by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ on the status of Sri Lanka’s progress towards implementation of its commitments, with opportunities for regular interim reporting through oral updates and interactive dialogues; Request the government of Sri Lanka to collaborate with the OHCHR and other stakeholders to develop a time-bound implementation plan for the implementation of remaining pledges.