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Critics fear sub-decree will increase evictions

Critics fear sub-decree will increase evictions

CRITICS say a new sub-decree aimed at regulating the spaces along sidewalks and railways will lead to more evictions of families living in contested areas.

Adopted Friday by the Council of Ministers, the sub-decree seeks to manage sidewalk and railway spaces to accommodate future development projects. It must be approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen before it becomes law.

Officials say it targets people who set up tents and other forms of makeshift housing.

“We want to prevent people from using the sidewalks and railways improperly,” said Kem Borey, director general of public works at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

But Am Sam Ath, technical adviser for the human rights group Licadho, is worried that the sub-decree will impact longtime residents of communities near sidewalks and railways.

“Before, there was no sub-decree and they still evicted people. Now … it will cause even more trouble for people because authorities will now be following the law,” he said.

Kampong Chhnang resident Keor Vitisa, who lives next to a railway line in Toek Phos district, said he worries his family could be affected by future development projects. “Although we live along the railway, authorities have not given us land titles, so we will not receive any compensation,” he said.

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