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Ethnic Kuoy villagers from Preah Vihear province gather at a forest camp site in 2014 for a meeting to discuss land rights with a local NGO worker.
Ethnic Kuoy villagers from Preah Vihear province gather at a forest camp site in 2014 for a meeting to discuss land rights with a local NGO worker. Heng Chivoan

Call for faster land titling for indigenous communities

NGO Forum director Tek Vannara yesterday called on the Ministry of Land Management to speed up collective land titling for indigenous communities.

“If they can speed up the land registration process, it would be good for indigenous people,” Vannara said at a national workshop in Siem Reap to discuss the issue.

He said there were 501 indigenous communities in Cambodia, of which just 11 had received collective land titles. “Fifty more communities will get it soon, but this is still a small number,” he said.

To illustrate the need for land titling, Vannara pointed to indigenous communities in five provinces – Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri, Rattanakiri, Stung Treng and Koh Kong – currently engaged in land disputes with developers.

Lout Sang, an ethnic Kouy villager from Preah Vihear, bemoaned the lack of progress in his community’s land titling application. “We face losing our land to an economic land concession,” Sang said. “We were better able to protect our lands before the government began registering it than we are now.”

Present for the workshop was Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Land Management Siek Vanna who agreed in his remarks that collective land titling was important for indigenous communities.

“Doing this will help to secure their lands. However, we need time and finance,” Vanna said, adding that the government had made considerable progress with land registration nationwide. “We have given out more than 4.6 million land titles as of the end of June,” he said.

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