Community land title law passed in Thailand
In Thailand, a law on the issuing of community land title deeds officially called “The Regulation of the Prime Minister Office on the Issuance of Community Land Title Deeds” has been passed by the Cabinet on 11 May 2010. The essence of this law is to legally allow communities (both highland and lowland people) to collectively manage and use state-owned land for their living.
This implies that the state still retains its claim to ownership of these lands. This is very different from what indigenous peoples are demanding: that they get legal recognition of traditional land tenure and resource management systems. The present law requires that a community has to periodically renew their land title deeds with the respective government agencies that formally own the land, which means that to the communities it is like renting their own land. The law will become effective within 120 days, and under a pilot project 30 communities in provinces like Chiang Mai, Lampang, Phetchabun and Trang, among others, are expected to receive communal land title deeds in September. The new law is a flagship policy of the present government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. It is supposed to solve disputes over land and forest rights between government agencies and communities living on what has been declared state land, e.g. forest reserves or national parks. One of the main obstacles in implementing this law is the opposition of the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment, in particular Minister Suwit Khunkitti. The Minister has been opposed to the recognition of communal land rights in forest areas since the very beginning. Most of the state land to be granted to communities lies in forest reserves and national parks which are fall under the authority of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and the Royal Forest Departments, both of which are under Minister Suwit's supervision. It is expected that the minister’s opposition to the law will severely hinder its proper implementation. The chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Jatuporn Buruspat, also pointed out that the community land title deeds would be in breach of existing laws. Nevertheless, indigenous leaders in Thailand consider the passing of the law a first step in the right direction. 20-05-2010 - Kittisak Rattanakrajangsri/Chris Erni
Tags: Land rights