PCJSS Memorandum demanding for Constitutional Recognition during 15th Amendment of the Constitution
On 26 October 2010 a 6-member delegation of PCJSS led by President of PCJSS, Jyotirndra Bodhipriya Larma, has met Ms. Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Chairman of the Special Committee on Amendment of Bangladesh Constitution and Deputy Leader of Bangladesh Parliament in Dhaka and handed over a Memorandum to include statutory provisions on certain issues including recognition of Indigenous Peoples, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord, 1997 and its subsequent legislation in the Constitution of Bangladesh.
In the memorandum it has been noted that the Indigenous Peoples have been living in various regions in the country since pre-colonial rule; but owing to loss of their ancestral lands and deprivation in all respects have been turned to the most marginalized people at the moment.
However, in 1997 the Government of Bangladesh and PCJSS signed the CHT Accord and few subsequent legislation too have been made or amended to strengthen the special administrative structure of the region. In consonance with it statutory provision on them in the constitution is very much imperative.
The Accord and the subsequent Acts (CHTRC Act 1998 and the HDCs Acts 1989 as amended as per the Accord) maintained CHT and the three Hill Districts as Tribal (Indigenous) inhabited region and districts. Therefore, it is important to safeguard it through inserting statutory provision in the Constitution.
In 1947 ratio of IPs population was 97.50%, which is estimated reduced to 55% in 1997 and in 2010 to 51%. That is why, in order to ensuring participation and proper representation of the IPs of CHT in the Parliament, the lone decision making legal institution as well as sharing in the national issues it is imperative to reserve the parliament seats of there for the IPs.
Further, it was noted that as indigenous peoples except that of CHT have become absolute minority as well as scattered at the own ancestral land and territory. So, in order to ensuring their participation in the decision-making process and executive organs seats at the local councils and in the parliament be reserved for them.
The above stated issues have been summed up as given below:
A. The Main Issues included in the proposals for Amendment of the Constitution
1. Provide Constitutional recognition of the Indigenous Peoples along with their languages, cultures and traditions;
2. Provide Constitutional recognition to CHT as Indigenous Peoples Inhabited Special Region for protection of political, economic, cultural and religious rights of the IPs in the region;
3. Provide seat reservation for indigenous peoples including women in the parliament and local government councils;
4. Ensure constitutional provision with a guarantee that no amendment of constitutional provisions and laws relating to indigenous peoples will be made without the prior consent of indigenous peoples;
5. Recognise the customary rights of the IPs over their land and territory and natural resources in CHT and in case of applicable in other IPs inhabited areas in other parts of the country;
6. Provide constitutional recognition of the CHT Accord signed in 1997 and the subsequent laws formulated under it.