Global Land News Summaries May 13 - 20, 2015

Thank you to @CGinsburg for collecting this week’s land news headlines (and a few additions from May 11th and 12th.) Please add other news stories, comments, or questions by using ‘Reply’ below.

05.11.2015 –Myanmar: Chinese ripples in the paddy fields of central Myanmar Mizzima …Whether based on rumours or not, what is clear is that land prices are soaring in the region and farmers are selling. “Now, the Chinese have already bought most of the farmland,” U Myint Htway said. “We are now growing crops on their land.”

05.11.2015 – Cambodia: Report looks at dark side of sugar concessions Anadolu Agency More than 2,000 families have been affected and at least 3,000 hectares misappropriated for logging by three sugar plantations in the north Cambodian province of Oddar Meanchey, according to ActionAid report.

05.11.2015 –Indonesia: Palm sustainability group puts expansion ban on Golden Agri unit Reuters A palm oil industry body has ordered a unit of one of the world’s major producers to stop buying or developing new plantations in Indonesia, in a dispute seen as a test case on expansion by agribusiness firms versus local land rights…

05.12.2015 – Sierra Leone: National Land Policy out Soon Africa Young Voices The Ministry of Lands Country Planning and the Environment has today held a consultative stakeholders meeting on the theme: “the way forward for land management in Sierra Leone.” The meeting is to discuss the final stage of the National Land Policy which started in December 2009 and which will serve as a comprehensive document in administering land issues within the country.

05.13.2015 – Nigeria: Federal Government Lauds Achievements of IFAD-Assisted Programme The Nigerian Observer The Federal Government has commended the achievements of the Community-Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBNRMP) in spite of its funding constraints.

05.13.2015 – South Africa: KZN to set up Land Invasion Unit News 24 The KZN Human Settlements Department is setting up an anti-land invasion unit to combat the invasion of government land.

05.13.2015 – South Africa: The IRR’s Anthea Anthony: Ignoring the Writing on the Wall The property rights of all South Africans are under massive threat from five bills recently enacted into law or still in the legislative pipeline.

05.13.2015 – Kenya: Swazuri Team to Take Back Lost Land AllAfrica Private developers have been told to stop grabbing public land for their projects. National Lands Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri yesterday said they should instead buy land from the owners. He said the commission has started to repossess public land.

05.13.2015 – Kenya: Farmers Fighting Developers for Land Fresh Plaza Ramadhan Njoroge, a resident of Ngangarithi village, told IPS that his community’s worst fears came to life this past January, when several smallholder families “awoke to find markers demarcating land that we had neither sold nor had intentions to sell.”

05.13.2015 – India: Chief Minister Promises Criminal, Civil Action Against Land Grabbers, Officials "We will launch criminal and civil proceedings against land grabbers and officials who helped developers to construct structures on lake beds and government lands in the City," the Chief Minister said.

05.13.2015 – India: Human Rights Body Demands Land Acquisition in Yaithibi Loukon by Manipur Government to be Stopped Merinews "The decision, announced by the Chief Minister on August 24, 2014, without obtaining free, prior, and informed consent of the farmers and residents in and around Yaithibi Loukon, will seriously affect the land and livelihood security of the people living there," AHRC said in a release.

05.13.2015 – Cambodia: Villagers Protest Loss of Land, Livelihood to Concessions India Gazette Representatives of the more than 300 ethnic Stieng families from Memot district in Tbong Khmum province told RFA’s Khmer Service that five or six companies were granted the land to establish plantations for crops such as rubber trees, leaving villagers without a source of fish or crops.

05.13.2015 – Thailand: Illegal Land Grab in Hua Hin Mountains Thai Visa News Military officers and natural resources officials were on Wednesday dispatched to Khao Nong Samore and Khao Don Tabaek in Hua Hin to find out if there was any forest encroachment as complained by villagers.

05.13.2015 – Malaysia: Borneo Highway - Compensation First, then Location Free Malaysia Today Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president Tiong King Sing said issues such as compensation for the villagers should be ironed out first, rather than direct them to move out from the land where they have earned a living for decades.

05.13.2015 – Australia: Unclear Deal for Northern Territory Remote Communities The Northern Territory government says it is not considering closing remote indigenous communities, but a Commonwealth offer to transfer responsibility for essential services is clouded in uncertainty.

05.13.2015 – New Zealand: Taranaki Hapu Heads to High Court over Land Claims Taranaki Daily News The Araukuku hapu, which falls within the domains of Ngaruahine and Ngati Ruanui iwi, lodged an application with the High Court at Wellington on Friday, after it was denied an urgent hearing about its claims by the Waitangi Tribunal last week. The hapu is seeking a High Court review of the decision.

05.13.2015 – Trinidad and Tobago: 60,000 Squatters Stand to Benefit Daily Express Minister of State Lands Jairam Seemungal said yesterday there were over 60,000 squatters on State Lands who stood to benefit from the Prime Minister’s pledge to regularise squatters.

05.13.2015 – United States: Etok’s Vision put Alaska Native Land Claims on a Grander Scale Alaska Dispatch News Like many, I was saddened at the passing of Charlie Edwardsen, Jr. of Barrow. Known as Etok, his Inupiat name, Edwardsen was one of a handful of Native leaders who hugely influenced the Alaska Native claims movement as it gathered force in the 1960s.

05.14.2015 – Global: To Make Palm Oil ‘Sustainable” Local Communities Must be in Charge The Ecologist The palm oil industry’s repeated failure to keep its promises illustrates why global initiatives to achieve ‘sustainable palm oil’ must place communities centre-stage, writes FPP. Standard-setters like the RSPO must demand action, enforcement and accountability - not just lofty commitments that inspire hope, but rarely deliver.

05.14.2015 – South Africa: Roll Out of Mobile Land Claims Offices Welcomed AllAfrica Cabinet has welcomed the rolling out of mobile land claims offices throughout the country, says Acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams. The process is aimed at enabling all qualifying persons to lodge land claims, in addition to the 14 lodgement offices situated in all provinces.

05.14.2015 – India: Centre to Promulgate Land Bill Ordinance for Third Time Hindustan Times With the controversial land acquisition bill being referred to a joint parliamentary committee, government on Thursday said it would re-promulgate the related ordinance for the third time.

05.14.2015 – Pakistan: Study Calls for Introducing Land Ceiling in Sindh The Daily Times Speakers at the launching ceremony of the study “Profiles of Land Tenure System in Pakistan” on Wednesday underlined the need for introduction of a land ceiling law in Sindh to discourage big landholding in both urban and rural areas.

05.14.2015 – Pakistan: Agricultural Growth Key to Economic Success - Study The debate on land reforms has been an integral part of freedom movements, and since partition Pakistan has been seeking to establish policies, to varying levels of success, that positively contribute to its agricultural development.

05.14. 2015 – Thailand: Graft Body to Block Officials’ Alleged Korat Land Grab The Nation Multimedia An informed source at the CNAC yesterday said the proposal to cancel distribution of remaining Lam Takhong land plots would be tabled at tomorrow’s meeting of 22 agencies from eight ministries related to the issue of forestland encroachment.

05.14.2015 – Mexico: National Plans for Land Reform to Boost Investment Reuters The legislation being drafted will draw on an energy reform completed last year that gave the government more power to act in favor of investors in disputes with communal landholders over usage of rural areas such as those known as ejidos, said the two officials from the government and the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

05.15.2015 – Liberia: Conflict around the Socfin-Bolloré plantation - New occupation ReAct Following the uprisings in Cameroon and in Cambodia, the residents of villages neighboring the Socfin plantation in Liberia are mobilizing to confront the company…

05.15.2015 – Zimbabwe: Farm Grabs - Does Zimbabwe have Right Land Tenure System? Zimbabwe Independent The past few weeks we have witnessed three rather disturbing incidents on farm grabs or invasions that left most people questioning whether we do indeed have the right land tenure system in Zimbabwe.

05.15.2015 – Bangladesh: Government is Stealing Land from its Citizens Quartz Rahman’s story may be harrowing, but it is hardly unique. Like all citizens of Bangladesh, Rahman lives under constant threat that the government will decide to seize his land and turn him into a refugee.

05.15.2015 – Canada: Federal Budget will Advance First Nations Communities Troy Media The budget delivers on some of First Nations’ most deeply held political and economic desires and dedicates resources for more Nations to enter the First National Land Management Act process to increase their control over land management on their lands.

05.15.2015 – Canada: The Lax Kw’alaams and Why Property Rights Matter Cato at Liberty “Hopefully, the public will recognize that unanimous consensus in communities (and where unanimity is the exception) against a project where those communities are offered in excess of a billion dollars, sends an unequivocal message this is not a money issue: this is environmental and cultural.”

05.15.2015 – United Kingdom: Most Scots Back Fresh Land Reform Push The Scotsman A majority of Scots back plans which could force the country’s big estate owners to sell off parts of their land, a Government consultation has found.

05.16.2015 – Philippines: Palm oil plantations left peasants and indigenous peoples landless, deprived of livelihood APC “Oil palm was hyped as a ‘tree of peace’ with its promises of livelihood and development, food security, poverty alleviation and economic stability. However, the reality proves otherwise and this was confirmed in the conference,’ said Rhoda Gueta, secretariat coordinator of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC)…

05.17.2015 – Uganda: Distortions on Amuru Game Reserves The Independent This article intends to generate debate on whether the village of Apaa in the original position of things, belonged to Madi district; and whether Acholi settlers strayed and settled into Apaa by mistake after 1972 de-gazetting of these game reserves as claimed by Prof. Ogenga-Latigo.

05.17.2015 – Rwanda: EU in $4.5m Deal to Lift Rwanda Technical Knowhow East African Business Week “For the land registry work especially in the rural area, the funds will support in the decentralized processes, and also in making sure that the work that has been done in terms of land registration continues to improve in terms of planning, monitoring and also in terms of sustainability especially for the land registry, the mapping, and also how to make sure that they know where there are some issues that are to do with the climate change and how to improve the land management.”

05.17.2015 – India: Officials Told to Complete Survey of Forest Land Expeditiously The Hindu M. Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary of the Department of Forest and Environment, has directed the officials of the departments of Forest and Revenue to expeditiously complete the survey of land in places where families displaced due to the Sharavati hydroelectricity project had been rehabilitated.

05.17.2015 – Pakistan: Unequal Division The Express Tribune Approximately 76 per cent of rural families in agrarian Sindh are landless, making their ends meet by cultivating land owned by a mere 1.3 per cent of the entire province’s population, which includes families of feudal and tribal chieftains.

05.17.2015 – Malaysia: 90% Stake for NCR Land Owners in New Scheme Free Malaysia Today Owners of Native Customary Right land in Sarawak will be able to receive 90% of the benefit from efforts to develop their land with palm oil plantations under a new state government initiative…

05.18.2015 – Namibia: Communal Land Rights Protect Poorer Villagers AllAfrica Villagers in the Okongo and Otjetjekua districts formally received their land right certificates from the new land reform ministry, at the end of April. Conferring communal land rights serve to protect the interest of villagers allowing them a guarantee of utilisation and occupation.

05.18.2015 – Somalia: New Milestone as 500 Households Receive Land Titles Norwegian Refugee Council It was a rare moment of joy and pride when 500 households in Baidoa, Bay region of South-Central Somalia received land titles, becoming new owners of the land that they occupy. This is the first such initiative in Baidoa and sets a promising foundation towards providing long-term solution to internal displacement.

05.18.2015 – Tanzania: Government plans $100m oil palm project EA Business Week Land acquisition for a $111 million (Tsh.199.8 billion) to cater for the Integrated Oil Palm Project in Ruvu Basin Coast region near Dar es Salaam Tanzania is being processed…

05.18.2015 – Malaysia: Ejected from Centuries-Old Home for Dam Project, Pahang Orang Asli Sue TNB The Malay Mail Online After being forced to leave their centuries-old home in Pahang to make way for a hydroelectric project, a group of orang asli villagers have filed a lawsuit against Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), hoping to uphold their land rights as natives.

05.18.2015 – Indonesia: Pupuk Indonesia needs $534m for Merauke Food Estate Jakarta Post The government has tasked state-owned fertilizer maker Pupuk Indonesia to raise Rp 7 trillion ($534 million) to clear and develop 750,000 hectares of rice fields in Papua province.

05.18.2015 – Ukraine: Who Owns Agricultural Land in Ukraine? Truthout Some estimates now bring the total of Ukrainian farmland controlled by foreign companies to over 2.2 million ha; however, research has also identified important grey areas around land tenure in the country, and who actually controls land in Ukraine today is difficult to ascertain.

05.19.2015 –Southern Africa: Illovo Sugar Limited Launches its Group Guidelines on Land and Land Rights Illovo Illovo Sugar Limited launches its Group Guidelines on Land and Land Rights, formulated in consultation with local and international experts on land matters…

05.19.2015 – Zimbabwe: Fast Track Land Reform Shows Little Benefit 15 Years On New Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe wanted to use his land reform program to eliminate the traces of colonialism by giving farms to black Zimbabweans. 15 years later the country can no longer feed itself.

05.19.2015 – Mozambique: History Repeats as Farce: Giving Away Land Without Consultation Food Tank The Mozambique Council of Ministers is considering a massive project along the Lurio River in northern Mozambique without consulting the estimated 500,000 affected people in the project area.

05.19.2015 – Israel: Court Permits Discriminatory Evictions Human Rights Watch Separate Israeli Supreme Court decisions issued on May 5, 2015, open the way for state authorities to forcibly evict residents of two Arab villages from their homes. The inhabitants of both villages, one in Israel and the other in the occupied West Bank, have previously been displaced following actions by Israeli authorities.

05.19.2015 – Papua New Guinea: Special Task Force to implement SABL recommendations Act Now! The inquiry into the Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABL) has been taken over by an Independent Task Force Team… The SABL inquiry came about, when it was uncovered that over 5.2 million hectares of customary land were converted to agricultural business leases without the knowledge of customary landowners.

05.19.2015 –Bougainville: Australia’s interest in Bougainville’s independence is far from locals’ wishes The Guardian Australia’s diplomatic push into Bougainville coincides with a referendum on independence and calls to reopen the mine that was closed by bloodshed…

05.19.2015 – South America: China, Brazil, Peru Eye Transcontinental Railway Megaproject International Business Times “This is a very controversial project,” said Julia Mello Neiva, a Brazil-based researcher for the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. “Considering what we have seen in past years in Brazil with the impact of big infrastructure projects, it’s hard to say whether this would really be good for the country.”

05.20.2015 – Mozambique: Controversial ProSavana Project Moves Toward Approval AFK Insider This year, Mozambique’s government is expected to approve ProSavana, a controversial joint agricultural program with Japan and Brazil to develop soybeans on up to 35 million hectares (nearly 100 million acres) of fertile, “underutlized” land in the Nacala corridor. That’s the size of North Carolina.

05.20.2015 – Mozambique: Resistance to ProSavana in Mozambique PLAAS This presentation looks at who is behind the project, the aims of the project and the resistance to the project…

05.20.2015 – Mozambique: LNG land rights could face legal challenge Interfax The land-use title (DUAT) granted to the Rovuma Basin LNG Land (RBLL) company for the construction of an LNG plant in northern Mozambique is illegal and could be challenged in court… the DUAT rights of the people already living on the land were not terminated before the DUAT was awarded to RBLL.