Saturday, November 20, 2010

Compilation by Ishita Dey

Brasilia Declaration on the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons in the Americas

Eighteen South American Countries adopted a declaration in Brasilia at the end of a meeting to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the sixtieth anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the fiftieth anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The document is being seen as the first step towards a regional protection approach on displacement and protection of refugees. According to UNHCR statement the declaration is significant because of three reasons: respect for the principle of non-refoulement, including non-rejection at borders and non-penalization of illegal entry; support for the incorporation of gender, age and diversity considerations into national laws on refugees and the displaced; and the encouragement of States to adopt mechanisms to address new situations of displacement not foreseen by the 1951 Refugee Convention, the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of States.

To read the Declaration:; Accessed on 14 November 2010For more details:; Accessed on 14 November 2010

Thatto Flood Victims: Badin Relief Camps Details

Thousands of people from different areas of Thatto are going to Karachi, Badin, Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan and other parts of lower Sindh. So far the official registered figures by district Government Badin is in thousands but more people are expected to arrive.

Camps in Badin district
1.Taluka Badin : 400
2.Taluka Talhar: 88
3.Taluka Matli: 90
4.Taluka Tando Bago: 332
5.Taluka Golarchi 2002
6.Total: 2912


Violence in Kandhamal and National People’s Tribunal, Delhi

A.J. Philip in his article “Shame revisited: A relook at Kandhamal”, reports about the recently concluded National People’s Tribunal which was attended by sixty victims who travelled all the way from Kandhamal to New Delhi. The tribunal, a civil society initiative was headed by Justice A.P. Shah, a former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and other members present were eminent personalities from different works of life like Harsh Mander, Syeda Hameed and Mahesh Bhatt. One common problem that the victims faced was the non-cooperative attitude of the police and the administration. Most of them had a harrowing time to register FIRs (First Information Reports). And even when FIRs are registered, appropriate charges are not made against the accused, with a view to protecting them. What makes this article though provoking is the author’s comment on media coverage of “events far away”. Though the organizers had sent press notices to all media houses there was hardly any media coverage despite the event being held in Delhi. The author’s comment ponders us to rethink the way issues of violence, conflict and displacement in various regions are covered in national media. For details please visit the link below

Source:; Accessed on 10 September 2010.

USCRI Launches the Thailand Committee for Refugees

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is pleased to announce that our field office in Thailand has become an independent national organization: the Thailand Committee for Refugees (TCR). The new entity will focus on building local support for refugee rights under the leadership of Veerawit Tianchainan, who has served as the Country Director of USCRI Thailand since 2009. USCRI will continue operating in Bangkok through a partnership with Asylum Access to advocate for refugee rights throughout Southeast Asia.

USCRI is a Washington, D.C. area-based nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the needs and rights of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide by advancing fair and humane public policy, facilitating and providing direct professional services, and promoting the full participation of refugees and immigrants in community life.

Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network

A useful resource for everyone concerned with protecting the rights of refugees, in particular those who are representing refugees seeking asylum in the global south. It is intended primarily to assist those involved in the provision of legal aid - lawyers, paralegals, NGOs - who are working from the global south, where access to information is often scarce.

For details visit :

Resource Centre on Forced Migration in South Asia

CRG has established a Resource Centre on Forced Migration in South Asia to enhance its research and training activities on forced migration and other related themes. The main objective is to develop first hand knowledge and experiences about forced migration and displacement in the neighbouring countries of South Asia. We have updated the website and details of our library and resource centre holdings are available online.

For details please register to access our holdings on forced migration:

Dilemma of Right to Property and IDPs in Nepal

Som Prasad Niroula
[Nepal Institute of Peace (NIP)]

During the period of these four years from April 2006 to present, the country has witnessed many political changes like abolition of monarchy, entry into the system of Republic, formation of constituent assembly by election and ongoing process of drafting new constitution but the major issue of transformation peace process is still in a weak position and the political crisis is continued till the date. The reintegration and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is one of the major part of the peace process but very little works have been done to the people displaced during the period of conflict. Reintegration and Rehabilitation project of Nepal Peace Fund Trust of Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction has identified only 52,160 persons (14,031 families) till the date which is very small number. Also it has allocated only 4.92 percent of its resource on the category of Rehabilitation. 1 As the National IDP Policy has not been implemented properly and the Procedural Directives 2007 of National Policy Relating to Internally Displaced Persons, 2007 is still in pending, various issues are yet to resolve. The IDPs who want to resettle at the present place of living are unable to receive compensation as it is only for returnees although the National IDP Policy clearly entitles every displaced persons have right to integrate in their current place of displacement of resettle elsewhere in Nepal.

Capture of Land and Property and the Right to Property

During the conflict, a large number of people left home due to threat and harassment by conflicting parties. They also did not get chances of even taking the tangible properties their houses were captured as well as destroyed by the conflicting parties Nepal Communist Party of Maoists and security forces. Moreover, some for the houses got destroyed itself because of not staying for long year.

The laws of armed conflict prohibit the destruction and capture of property was breached by both sides. Also the distribution of compensation for reconstruction and repair was ignored at the beginning and it is still prolonged. More than 10,000 cases of claiming for compensation were recorded by taskforce formed in 2007, but till the date only some 419 families had received support to reconstruct their houses and 2,468 repair of damaged house. 2

The lack of housing in the place of origin is as one of the main factors preventing the IDPs return. A survey report claims that nearly half of those interviewed reported serious land housing and property problems. 3 Many of IDPs are willing to return but the Maoist Cadres at local level still making threaten to them.4 Thus most of the IDPs with non-Maoist political affiliations have been prevented from recovering land and property.

The property right is one of the basic rights of human being. According to the preamble of the interim constitution, it guarantees the basic human rights to every citizen of Nepal. "Right to Property" under Article 19(1) provides that all citizen of Nepal are guaranteed by the right to acquire, own, sell and otherwise dispose of property. 5 The state shall not except in the public interest, requisition, acquire or create any encumbrance, on the property of any person, and this should be just, fair and reasonable and not by arbitrary but rule of law or by law only. 6 Other provisions under the Constitution include the right to earn and use one’s property, and the right to choose one’s place of residence. Moreover, the constitution enshrines that the state has a responsibility to conduct programs to rehabilitate the displaced and provide relief for damaged private properties. 7

Returning of captured land and property is one of the necessary parts of rehabilitation. According to the International Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (IDPs), competent authorities have the duty and responsibility to assist returned and/or resettled internally displaced persons to recover, to the extent possible, their property and possessions which they left behind or were dispossessed of upon their displacement. When recovery of such property and possessions is not possible, competent authorities shall provide or assist these persons in obtaining appropriate compensation or another form of just reparation 8. It is clearly mentioned in the National IDP Policy also that the state shall make necessary arrangements to return such physical properties which were forcefully seized at the time of conflict 9. However, the commitment of the peace process has not been implemented on the issues of returning the properties to the IDPs.

The unequal access of land is also one of the major reasons of conflict. Most of the lands were captured with a purpose of distributing to the landless poor. But, it is still unknown how many poor people received the land illegally distributed by Nepal Communist Party of Maoist. Now, it is challenge for the Maoists as well as government to return the captured land and provide to land owners.

The High Level Scientific Land Reform Commission (HLSLR) which was formed to study the land situation has recently reported that there are 1.4 million landless people in Nepal and they require 421,770 hectare land to get rehabilitated and there is some 492,851 hectare land belonging to the government which is not being used productively and it can be used to enable 1.4 million squatters to enjoy access to land 10.

The government of Nepal should return the captured land to the owner. The practice of illegal encroachment of land may further exaggerate the present crisis. The government may bring a law and look for a legal space to take excessive land from owner. The government may give minimal compensation for the owner / IDPs.

The Present Context

The capturing of land is still continued by various armed groups and political parties in different parts of the country. Unified UCPN(Maoist) and its sister organizations are continuing to capture private and trust-owned land in various places even as months have elapsed since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord. 11 The rule of law is getting weaken and people are being unable to claim the right of land and property.

Source: INSEC, Human Rights Year Book 2010, p.7

The returning of captured land and property has become a political agenda at present. It has never been such a strongly raised. The returning of captured land and property is one of the major demands of the ruling government to end the deadlock of current crisis and initiate the formation of new government of consensus.


The right to property is widely debated topics. However, the Interim Constitution of Nepal – 2006 considers one of the fundamental rights. Moreover, the international documents recognized rights property is a basic rights of individual. In this regard, the government should ensure the rights to property to IDPs. The government and Nepal Communists Party of Maoists (CPN-M) may impose the land policy through legal amendment. The newly emerged groups also started to seize the property by following the precedent of CPN-M. The mutual solution has to be explore among the government and IDPs.


1.Four Monthly Progress Report, Report No.8, Nepal Peace Trust Fund, Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction
2.Four Monthly Progress Report, Report No. 8, NPTF, April 21, 2010, p.38
3.Nepal IDP Working Group, 15 June 2009, pp. 27-29
4.Rapid Assessment of Conflict Induced Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) for their Return, Resettlement and Reintegration, NHRC, December 2008, p. 81
5.The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, Article 19 (1)
6.Id, Article 19 (3)
7.Id, Article 33 (r)
8.UN OCHA, Guiding Principles on InternaL Displacement, Retrived from
9.National Policies on Internally Displaced Persons, 2063(2007), 8.3.4, ‘1.4 million landless people need 421,770 hectares of land ‘, 15 May 2010, Maoists continue to capture private land, 7 March, 2010

The IDPs of the “Madhesh Aandolan’

Suman Babu Poudel and Anita Ghimire

Although, the definition of Madhes and Madhesi on the present political and social context of Nepal is highly contested, Madhes as yet, is geographically defined as the “Terai”-a flat southern region of Nepal. It stretches from east to west as part of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The people inhabiting it are mainly of three types- the indigenous people, the people of hilly origin (the Pahades 1) and local people who share cultural similarities and close ties with the cross border Indian parts (the Madhesi).

The Madhesh Aandolan

Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) a political party in the cabinet was against the interim constitution that was made by the coalition government led by the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN)-Maoist (Maoist hereafter) after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006. Their demonstration became the starting point of the conflict. It started in the two districts 2 eastern region of Siraha and Saptari and spread over the western region. It continued for 19 days and claimed the life of 29 Madhesi people. The major political demand was a regional autonomy with rights to self determination, proportional representation in constitutional assembly, provision of citizenship, and end to discrimination in hiring Madhesi in national administration, army, and bureaucracy.

However, the distressing part was that the conflict which started as a clearly political cause got mixed with unlawful activities like looting and kidnapping when other groups who were presumably taking benefit of the situation of loss of law and order joined it. However, they claimed it to be for the support of the conflict. Such activities were targeted towards particular groups who were forced to be displaced from the Madhesh. It is estimated that around 6000- 8000 people have been displaced due to the conflict (IDMC, 2008). However, as is the common case, the numbers are much more higher- in this case precisely because the agencies involved were led by the misconception that IDPs are only poor the people, so they enumerated only those who were living in forest or in tents and squatters. However a large number of people displaced by this conflict have settled in urban areas and are able to support themselves. This article describes the nature of the persons displaced internally due to the conflict. Their issue is crucial to the federal structure that Nepal is envisioned to take, yet they are neither recognized by the state and its policy procedures nor other national and international actors. These people can be classified into the following three broad types.

General Hill People

There are people who were living in Madhes but are of hilly origin and share language and most of their cultures with other people of hilly origin. Some of them had been living in Madhes for many generations and have no houses, property or immediate relatives outside the Madhes. Occupationally, most were involved in the business and agriculture and professions like law and teaching. At first, they were distinguished as Pahadi- thus not belonging to the place. They fled because they frequently faced threats of kidnapping, forced donations, unreasonable taxes and ransom, confiscation of the land and other forms of property and misbehavior and attacks on their women and children. These attacks came from different armed groups 3 that are claiming to support the conflict.

Besides these, the conflict has bred communal hatred. Purely personal issues of misunderstandings were interpreted as propaganda against the whole Madhesi community and revenge was taken on any available Pahadi. Similarly, non Madhesis living in Madhesi majority community were attacked if anything happened to any Madhesi living elsewhere. This made life insecure for the Pahadis also.

These groups are among the first to be displaced. A large number of these IDPs have settled along the northern part of the east west highway where there are communities with the majority of hill origin people. Others have moved deeper into the urban areas.

Government Employees

The displacement of government employees also started from the very beginning of the conflict. The leaders of the conflict propagated a sentiment that the government employees were the agents of the central hilly government, whom “the colonizers” sent to the Madhesi homelands to monitor and dominate the Madhesi people. Their displacement was seen as a victory by the Madhesi forces.

There are three kinds of displaced government employees based on their living in Madhes.

•Those local level government employees who are living in the Madhesh since many generations. They are permanent settlers of the place and employed by local government bodies. They shared a long relation and social and cultural understanding with the local Madhesi. These have no property elsewhere.

•Those who have been living in Madhesh since few years- after undertaking the job there. These mostly lived in and around district headquarters or amongst the Pahadi- majority community. They lived on the rent houses or had built their own houses in recent years. They have their relatives and extended families in different hilly parts of Nepal.

•The third group comprises of government employees like Chief District Officers, Local Development Officers, government engineers and lawyers who are in higher posts and are assigned to those districts for a shorter tenure. These are generally in constant fear of being attacked from both sides. The Madhesi activists attack them blaming them to be corrupt and insincere on Madhesi people. They get threats of kidnapping, killing and demands for ransom by people who call them from the Indian cell phone numbers but claim that they are Madhesi. Incidents of murder and extortions targeted to these groups have augmented considerably. Most of such employees of hilly origin now decline to get transferred to these areas.

However, these people do not have their land and property in those areas. Mostly they live in government quarters. Upon displacement, these people generally seek their transfers to the capital or to other hilly districts.

Industrialists, businessman and landlords

Another group of displaced people are the Madhesi elites themselves, landlords, industrialist and businessman. This kind of attack on industrialist, businessman and landlords are increasingly seen in Birgunj, Biratnagar and Janakpur. Interestingly these belong to the “Madhesi” group in the local understanding. These are people who have their extended families and marriage relations both within India and Nepal. Most of them have been living in Nepal since generations and have their investment and extended families settled mostly in the Terai region.

The displacement of such groups has no connection to their ethnicity or belonging to the place. They are victims of the criminal activities taking place in the name of the Madhesi conflict and the government’s inability to distinguish and deal with the problem. These people are under constant threat of kidnapping, asking for ransoms or donations by the armed groups.

On displacement they either move to the nearby urban cities, or to Kathmandu. A large numbers of these people have bought houses and land and shifted their business in India. However, they have their property and investment in the Terai and are unable to either sell their properties or get their investment back.

All the categories of the IDPs have been displaced together with their families in most cases. However if they have not been able to sell their property or procure their investment, the male head of the family have come back after arranging accommodation for their remaining family members.

Acknoweledgement: The research is embedded in the NCCR North-South (Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research North-South) and is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC). The authors acknowledge the support of the centre.


1.The term “Phahadi’ and “Madheshi” used here is according to the understanding of the term by the local people as found in the fieldwork in Mahottari district by one of the authors.
2.Nepal is divided into 75 administrative parts, each called districts.
3.The home ministry of Nepal has identified over 109 armed groups, a vast majority of them formed after the Madhesh aandolan.

Contesting Statelessness: Comparative Perspectives of Tibetans and Rohingiyas in India and Bangladesh

by Nasreen Chowdhury,Assistant Professor in Asian University for Women, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 13 August 2010, Venue: CRG Seminar Room
[Report by Rajat Kanti Sur and Sucharita Sengupta]

Statelessness is a complicated issue and has serious impacts on human rights, liberty, job opportunity, and property rights of individuals who have been uprooted from the state. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, everyone has the right to nationality; no one shall be arbitrarily deprived from this. This has also been reinstated in the 1961 and 1964 convention on statelessness. Statelessness is therefore the denial of the link between individual community and the state. In this lecture she addressed a comparative study of the Tibetans and Rohingyas in India and Bangladesh. She argues that experiences of statelessness in postcolonial states of India and Bangladesh with multiple histories of partition and state-formation posits certain significant questions with particular reference to the need for regional protection mechanism, bi-lateral relations and importance of legal status and identification documents.

The statelessness of Tibetans is different from the Rohingyas. Her discussion geared around three vantage points, in the first section she sketched a brief historical context, in the second, a theoretical framework and finally, a variation between the two groups.

For instance, the Rohingyas are one of the major ethnic communities of the Northern Arakan region of Burma, which borders Bangladesh. With the end of the World War two, they suffered a history of abuse and faced their first exodus in 1962. In 1977, they again faced obstacle due to the new Government. A large number of refugees entered Bangladesh at that point of time. They were repatriated in 1977. But the situation again changed in 1991 &1992, following another exodus. It was during this time that, SLORC assumed power in Bangladesh and the Burmese policy towards the Rohingyas changed drastically. Most of the Burmese Muslim refugees took shelter in Coxbazar area within Bangladesh. They were a minority back then. They were repatriated in 1992. However it was involuntary and forceful repatriation, which ended in 1995.Whoever remained in Coxbajar are refugees but stateless. They are not treated well in terms of mobility, hygiene and live in camps. Around 21,000-30,000 Rohingyas live there and are now known as IDPs

The story of the Tibetan stateless persons is slightly different from the Rohingyas. They entered India in around 1950. They were able 2 gain political recognition which allowed them to be part and parcel of the Indian society. The Indian Government has recognized them as ‘refugees’. They are one of the most successful cases in India, where we have statelessness with a difference. They have made their own establishment, enjoy the freedom to practice religion of their choice and the freedom of speech and expression. They have also established their government on exile, in the Indian soil. The only condition Indian authorities seem to have set down is to do their activities peacefully.

The reason behind the contestation of the two different stories of statelessness is the different historical formation of states. The two basic ideas that deal with the attitude of the states towards the stateless persons in the postcolonial era are: culture and policies of citizenship. Culture of the state is very important regarding this issue. The policy of multiculturalism makes a state more sensitive towards those sentimental issues without denying the territorial integrity of the state.

[To listen to the full lecture text, please go to -]