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Groups call for land safeguards

Land rights activists urge donor pressure.

A COALITION of local and international rights groups has called on the government to implement indigenous land protections contained in law, claiming benchmark indicators set by international donors have been consistently ignored.

"[T]here has been a total failure by the Royal Government of Cambodia to fulfil its commitments to protect indigenous community land rights since 2002," the four organisations said in a statement Monday.

Although the 2001 Land Law contains provisions for the registration of indigenous communal property, they claim "not a single square metre" of land has been registered.

"The [government] has failed to stop private commercial interests from defrauding indigenous communities of their land for plantations such as rubber," the statement added.

Indigenous representatives from across the country, including 40 residents from Kong Yu village in Ratanakkiri's O'Yadav district, also gathered ahead of Tuesday's Government Donor Consultative Committee (GDCC) meeting in Phnom Penh, to request donors pressure the government on land issues.

"I would like to request that the donors who offered money to the government request that the government help indigenous minority people with this money," Vean Sami, an ethnic Koy representative from Kampong Speu's Oral district, said at a press conference Monday.

The groups also claim a subdecree on the registration of communal land, passed Friday by the Council of Ministers, also falls short of the benchmark standards set in 2002.

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