Protecting indigenous peoples' land rights
We fully endorse the call for implementation of the ILO convention 107 to protect land rights of the indigenous peoples of the country. Speakers at a roundtable titled "Indigenous and tribal peoples and Adivasis in the plain land" organised by Indigenous Peoples Development Services (IPDS) on Tuesday strongly urged the government to take immediate steps to put this Convention into action.
ILO Convention 107 states that indigenous peoples' right of ownership, collective or individual, over lands they traditionally occupy shall be recognised. Therefore, according to this Convention, though indigenous peoples do not have any land related papers their use of land for generations bestow them ownership right; and denial of this right is in contravention to the ILO Convention and a violation of human rights. The government has ratified the Convention but it is yet to be implemented. Experts at the programme opined that implementation of this Convention is instrumental in solving the existing land related problems of the indigenous peoples. This remains one of the major obstacles to resolving the land issue and fully implementing the CHT Accord.
Convention no. 169 is another important ILO instrument which calls for recognition of the cultural and other specificities of indigenous peoples. The government has not ratified it. To ensure rights of the indigenous peoples it is important to recognise their distinctive cultures as the country is home to diverse groups of people. In line with the speakers we also urge the government to ratify this ILO Convention immediately.