On November 4, JICA’s Examiners’ Office released its report on the findings of its first-ever investigation into a complaint filed by project affected people, and we were stunned to the repeated findings that JICA “was not in non-compliance” with its Environmental and Social Guidelines in regard to the Thilawa SEZ resettlement process.
On November 4, a representative from JICA went to Burma to hand 2 official copies (one in Japanese and one in English) to the 3 Burmese who filed the request for investigation. They are evidently welcome to submit comments to JICA regarding the findings, but they were not given a Burmese-language version of the report. JICA’s sensitivity to the needs of local people is proving to be about as good as that of the Burmese government.
The English version of the JICA Examiner’s report can be downloaded from JICA’s website.
The Examiner’s findings are in stark contrast to the report released by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which documents impoverishment, malnutrition, fear of retribution, “bacteriologically unsatisfactory” water supply, and other problems. Interestingly, both the JICA Examiner’s investigation and the PHR study were carried out over approximately the same time period.
Though the Examiner found that JICA was “not in non-compliance” in regard to each of the claims submitted in the request for inspection by local people, the Examiner did include a list of recommendations that JICA should implement as problem solving methods. One of these recommendations is, “[d]ialogues between the parties concerned should be prioritized first in reconciling different stakeholder opinions. It is desirable that JICA respond to questions from stakeholders in the form requested, in order to obtain the trust of the stakeholders. ”
We find some of the recommendations important and hope that JICA will sincerely incorporate these recommendations into their work. It is somewhat puzzling, however, as to how such recommendations would be necessary for a project that was indeed in full compliance with the Guidelines.
We will follow up soon with more specific comments.