Dear Saya @San_Lwin_Oo,
Thank you very much for raising the topic. Like many other organizations, we are also paying attention to the issue of VFV land and the law recently amended. Though we understand the attention of issues related to rule of law behind this, we have raised concern about the punishment sections overall by highlighting the challenges and possible impacts on the ordinary and customary land users.
As you know, land disputes related VFV land are still ongoing between the local people and the companies, in several areas of the country. Some case can even be under the category of land grab. The new amendment of the law and actions to the enforcement of the law has raised up the concerns by the organizations working to solve the issues of land conflicts, civil society representatives and the officials responsible to enforce it.
We have also mentioned our concerns together with many other organizations. You may have read the points in the letter here;
Regarding the protection of customary and/or communal rights, the law mentioned in it section 30a as follows;
30-a. Management of the following types of land shall not be governed by this law; -
(a) The lands for which the right to use as hillside cultivation (Taungya land) is granted under the existing law and rules,
(b) Customary lands designated under a traditional culture of the local ethnic people.
© The lands currently used for religious, social, education, health and transportation purposes of the public and ethnic people.
However, we still need to discuss more on identification, the process of identification, recognition, and protection. Enforcement of the VFV law, while we do not clearly understand this, will be welcoming conflicts on the ground.
Moreover, a clear understanding on how to solve the issue of the definition and boundary conflicts is also needed. We may have to reflect different sanerios in regions and states. This will have huge impacts on the process of development, national reconciliation, peace, and stability.
I have noticed some discussions between the parliament representatives, CSO representatives, and officials from concern departments.I think this kind of discussion, information sharing, creating space for providing opinions and attention to inclusiveness are very important to be happened more widely before taking the next careful step.
Recently, we have published a short simple document, about the VFV law, concerns related to it and the illustrated application process using the law, to help the community in case individuals/communities are interested to follow it. We are sharing the document as much as we can, to help people make their own decisions.
At the same time, community-based paralegals are also now working on documentation of real ground case experiences of using the VFV law in practice. With partner organizations of us, we @timmillar, @nwenisoe, @sungchinpar, @khinhtetwai, @ayeayeaung, @nawhlathazin are also in the initiative to prepare a short policy brief based on the case experiences on this matter.
I hope it will help.
With best wishes and respect.