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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministry seeks funds from US for land dispute resolution

US Ambassador to Cambodia William Heidt talks with Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara on Monday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
US Ambassador to Cambodia William Heidt talks with Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara on Monday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Ministry seeks funds from US for land dispute resolution

Land Management Minister Chea Sophara met with US Ambassador William Heidt on Monday evening to discuss the progress of recently established land dispute working groups and to request funding for an initiative to incentivise the resolution of such disputes.

A ministry press release said Sophara reiterated a claim made by ministry spokesman Seng Lot that out of 7,000 land disputes under examination by the ministry’s working groups, only 800 remained unresolved. The ministry unveiled the 27 working groups in June, when the teams were established to tackle the Kingdom’s land disputes.

The press release went on to say that Sophara asked Heidt to provide funding for a ministry program that gives 1 million riel (about $250) bonuses to working groups for each successfully resolved land dispute.

US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman confirmed the meeting, saying the two talked of “issues of long-standing interest to the United States including land titling, land dispute resolution, and land use planning”.

Ramen said the embassy would “take under consideration any requests from the ministry”, declining to comment further on the request.

“The Ambassador emphasised the importance of fairness and transparency in resolving land disputes,” he added.

Ministry spokespeople could not be reached yesterday and an official who declined to be named said the ministry was not ready to comment further or release a list of resolved and ongoing disputes.

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John Lowrie's picture

If there is genuine good will on the part of Minister Chea Sophara - and he should be given the chance to show it based on his good work as Phnom Penh Governor and at MRD - then we should all commend a new initiative. However, they really must delve back in to the ill-fated World Bank Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP), especially reports like the Inspection Panel report. http://ewebapps.worldbank.org/apps/ip/Documents/Cambodia%20LMAP_press_re... One crucial aspect, still apt today, was this ministry failed to use funds allocated for displaced/affected communities to have proper legal/civil society representation and to obtain fair compensation. Now if such provisions are provided in good faith and honored in both spirit and letter, then it could yet herald the end of the Boueng Kak Lake women's campaign for justice. HE Chea Sophara would do everyone a favor if he brought that about.

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