By Kavindya Chris Thomas
The International Tribunal on Evictions (ITE) has ruled that the Panama village eviction constituted a clear lack of free, prior and informed consent of the local communities and that it was a human rights violation.
The ITE has also issued a deadline to the Government for the implementation of its recommendations.
Issuing its verdict and recommendations, the Jury of the 6th Session of the ITE urged the authorities to stop the evictions in the Panama village and to return the land to the displaced people immediately. They also called on the military to vacate the occupied areas and cease commercial activities. The publication of the ITE adjudication on 26 December, 2017, called on the Government to implement the ITE recommendations with the collaboration of the relevant stakeholders, in particular the organizations of the victims of the evictions, with two deadlines in March and October, 2018.
The Jury of the 6th Session of the ITE, held in Venice, Italy, from 28 September to 30 September, 2017, heard for two days the testimonies, reports and recommendations of the inhabitants and communities from five continents who are affected by evictions and human rights violations caused by forced tourism development. Special attention was given to the case of the Panama village in Sri Lanka, where 1,400 people were violently evicted in 2010.
On their lands, the Navy built a hotel, the Malima Lagoon Cabanas, while the Air Force is building an International Relations Centre.
The villagers, peasants and fishermen, who were reportedly evicted and are struggling to recover their lands, have so far not been able to obtain justice.
The ITE Jury composed of concerned experts and representatives from international and local organizations specializing in human rights and tourism.
In a press communiqué the ITE stated that it has been proven with evidence that tourism development that puts profits before local communities and their well-being, leads to violations of national laws and human rights legally recognized by the countries that have ratified the relevant International Covenants.
Analysis of the cases have showed that the loss of local residents’ shelter, housing and land, as well as the loss of access to resources upon which their livelihood depend on have in turn triggered additional human rights violations.