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Land activists protest at the Ministry of Land Management earlier this year in Phnom Penh.
Land activists protest at the Ministry of Land Management earlier this year in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Forum calls for speedy land dispute resolutions

Visible and, more importantly, speedy results are necessary if people are to have faith in recent government pledges to expedite Cambodia’s numerous land disputes, activists and rights workers said yesterday.

Speaking at a forum on the urban poor organised by land rights group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, participants said that despite Land Minister Chea Sophara’s creation of working groups tasked with resolving land disputes, the pace was still sluggish.

“People can trust the ministry’s mechanisms if conflict resolution happens faster than this,” said Um Sam Ath, technical coordinator at Licadho.

“The conflicts will be stuck if the high-ranking officials are involved,” he added, pointing to a long-running Kampong Chhnang land dispute in which a company owned by the wife of the minister of mines and energy was accused of seizing villagers land.

Theng Savoeun, general secretary of the Coalition of Cambodia Farmers Community, added that land disputes had spread like a “cancer” in Cambodia and urged those affected to keep voicing their grievances.

While ministry spokesman Seng Lot could not be reached yesterday, he recently told Radio France International that land disputes had dropped 90 percent, a claim that has been widely contested.

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