Returns of Grabbed Land in Myanmar: Progress After 2 Years

By: Caitlin Pierce, Laura Goodwin, Nant Thi Thi Oo, Nyi Nyi Htwe, Tim Millar

Namati submitted this briefing paper to assist the government of Myanmar and other interested parties in efforts to ensure the implementation of the 2013 recommendations of Parliament’s Farmland Investigation Commission. The commission is tasked with scrutinizing land grab cases and to promote justice for Myanmar’s citizens whose land was taken without due process or compensation.

According to the Secretary General of the Farmland Investigation Commission, as of June 2015, approximately 30,000 cases have been submitted to the Commission, of which about 20,000 have been heard. Of those, a small number of cases (882 or 4%) have been found justified to receive compensation. Many of these are collective cases, and according to the 2015 report, the Commission has returned about 335,000 acres of urban and farmland to benefit 33,608 families.

Namati’s own experience suggests that the number of cases justified to receive compensation or return of land should be much higher. We further recommend actions the government can take to help streamline the return and compensation of grabbed land and improve the likelihood that outcomes are fair and equitable. This briefing draws on Namati’s experience using a network of community paralegals trained to use administrative procedures to resolve land grab cases in Ayeyarwaddy, Southern Shan, Sagaing, Magwe, and Bago between 2013 and 2015.