Three decades of civil war and subsequent development initiatives in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka have resulted in large-scale displacements and evictions. Communities who lost their lands have demanded the release of their land and security of tenure. However, their demands have been met with challenges such as lack of political will, insufficient legislative and administrative processes, and denial of information. Communities, with the support of civil society organizations (CSOs), have mobilized themselves, often led by women. This paper examines the different strategies and mechanisms utilized to hold institutions accountable to secure tenure rights of communities. It also documents the challenges, setbacks and victories, and captures lessons learnt. A case study of the land rights struggle of a forcefully evicted community in Paanama village demonstrates how persistent community activism and advocacy at different levels have held institutions to account and made progress towards the guarantee of land rights.
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