WAR veterans and armed forces retirees who sell or rent their portion of a social land concession risk having that land confiscated by the government, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned in a speech on Wednesday.
Speaking at a policy briefing, he said retirees and war veterans were obligated to farm the land themselves.
“Social land concessions are intended for those who are truly landless, not only those who served in the armed forces, but also people affected by natural disasters or family resettlement,” Hun Sen said.
“They cannot use the land given to them to make money by selling or renting it. Otherwise we will confiscate the land, with no exceptions.”
But Ou Virak, director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), said the system was plagued with corruption.
He cited a case in Kampong Thom, where plots were downsized to meet social land concession terms and the remaining land sold off to private buyers.
“We know a lot of cases like this, where if you look at the list of the landless, there’s a lot of names of district and province officials,” Ou Virak said.
“We all know officials have been using this scheme to pocket money.”
Some groups, however, emphasised the importance of social land concessions, saying that rather than using them as a means of diverting land for personal gain, officials were prioritising economic land concessions.
“Social and economic land concessions ought to be balanced, but so far, economic concessions have proliferated at the expense of social concessions,” said Sia Phearum, director of the Housing Rights Task Force.
“There are so many poor people in Cambodia, and social concessions are more effective in terms of poverty reduction.”