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Villagers march through the streets of Phnom Penh during a protest
Villagers march through the streets of Phnom Penh during a protest last year, calling for the government to find a solution to their land dispute. Vireak Mai

Licadho shows data to gov’t

Rights group Licadho has provided hard data on land conflicts to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction after the government accused it of concocting a report released earlier this month alleging a sharp increase in disputes across the Kingdom.

The ministry wrote to the group last week to request detailed information proving its claim that it recorded three times as many new land complaints last year than in 2013, with 10,000 families affected across 13 provinces.

The information was sent yesterday, with Licadho saying they hope it will put to rest accusations that their report had been exaggerated and instead lead to action being taken by the government.

“It’s unsettling that government officials are still trying to minimise the country’s widespread land conflict problem,” the group’s director Naly Pilorge said in a statement.

“We hope that this additional information which we have gathered from investigations, most of which were carried out in the 13 provinces where we have field presence, will give the authorities and other interested parties the impetus to move forward and take action on this pressing issue.”

E Bunthouen, the deputy director of the National Cadastral Commission at the Ministry of Land Management, confirmed he had received the data but said he had not yet examined it.

“We have to take time to discuss with our group [about this data],” he said.

The government had asked for data showing the disputants involved in each conflict, the number of families involved, the size of the disputed land and whether any resolution had been found.

The ministry’s own figures show that land disputes have significantly declined in recent years, from 990 outstanding cases in 2013 to 750 cases last year.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan had thus alleged that Licadho made up its figures to paint a negative picture in order to draw more donor funds.

Data released by Licadho last April showed that Cambodia had passed what it called a “shameful milestone”, with land conflicts having affected more than half a million people since 2000.

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