Namati and a coalition of non-governmental representatives have published a policy brief on the committees tasked with overseeing the investigations of Myanmar’s historical land grab cases. It is hoped the brief will help strengthen the implementation of the committees, making them more responsive to the lived experience of ordinary Myanmar citizens trying to secure their land rights.
In May 2016, Myanmar’s Vice President established a Central Land Grab Reinvestigation Committee to accelerate the resolution of land grab cases and ensure that affected civilians do not suffer further. These committees are replicated at each administrative level and similar to their precursor mechanisms but with one unique and important difference: they include “farmer’s representatives” at each administrative level from village tract to state/region level. This represents the first instance in contemporary Myanmar of non-government (executive, military, or elected) personnel having a formalized role in such a far-reaching and sensitive advisory body. These non-governmental representatives, who are often members of civil society organizations (CSOs), serve two functions in these committees: they serve as advocates and conduits of information to the claimants, and, in some instances, they provide knowledge of local dynamics and history to the rest of the committee.
The inclusion of non-governmental representatives in these committees is a courageous step by the government and should be commended. Moreover, we recognize that government and non-government representatives serving on committees are doing so with limited additional budgetary or human resource support in addition to their regular full-time duties.
As with any new institution, there is room to grow. Namati and a coalition of non-governmental representatives serving on the Reinvestigation Committees have produced a brief to reflect on the work of the committees one year on. The policy brief is available in English and Burmese.