Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dam-affected villagers make case to UN envoy

Rhona Smith, UN special rapporteur for human rights, attends a meeting with Ministry of Justice officials last week.
Rhona Smith, UN special rapporteur for human rights, attends a meeting with Ministry of Justice officials last week. Heng Chivoan

Dam-affected villagers make case to UN envoy

The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia met with Stung Treng Governor Mom Saroen yesterday to discuss the plight of ethnic minorities in the province affected by the Lower Sesan 2 dam project.

Special rapporteur Rhona Smith is in Cambodia on a 10-day visit focusing on women’s and indigenous people’s rights, and on Sunday met with villagers in Sesan district’s Kbal Romea commune.

According to indigenous rights activist Ngach Samin, who was at Sunday’s meeting, the villagers revealed a litany of complaints, primarily focused on their scheduled resettlement to make way for the Lower Sesan 2 dam.

A 2010 environmental impact assessment found 5,000 families would be displaced by the project, and the first were asked to leave in 2011. Many have resisted relocation but have reluctantly come to accept compensation packages.

Samin, a project coordinator for the Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association, said that many of those at the meeting worried that relocation would lead to the deterioration of their Phnong culture, and said Smith had promised to pass on their concerns to Saroen yesterday.

However, shortly after yesterday’s meeting with Governor Saroen, his personal secretary Sen Puthy said Smith had praised the governor’s handling of the situation and highlighted Kbal Romea residents’ satisfaction with the resettlement plan.

“[She said] they agree, we have worked with them many times and explained the compensation and resettlement,” said Puthy. “The UN rapporteur appreciated the governor’s efforts to work to involve indigenous people in the process.”

When asked to comment on Samin’s account, Puthy asked that reporters call back later. Subsequent requests for comment were declined.

A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia declined to comment on the conflicting accounts, saying the special rapporteur would present her findings on Thursday.

0

Comments

Please, login or register to post a comment

Latest Video

Explore the durian and rubber farms of Kampong Cham

Take a drive north of Kampong Cham, past the dirt roads and the dense greenery.

Kem Sokha talks politics, power and Hun Sen

Kem Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, sat down with The Post’s Alex Willemyns and Mech Dara to discuss his supporters’ initial disappointment with this year’s

NEC officials tally votes during a recount last week in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia’s National Election Committee last week rejected 33 of 61 complaints filed over the conduct of June 4’s commune election, according to a s

People search for their names on the voter lists at a polling station in Kampong Cham’s Veal Vong commune earlier this month.

Four years ago, when the opposition snatched Kampong Cham away from the ruling party in 2013 national elections, it hinted at a deeper shift taking