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Tough talk on ELCs

Tough talk on ELCs

Economic land concessionaires not abiding by their contracts could have their licences revoked if they have seriously breached the terms, Prime Minister Hun Sen has said.

Illegally seizing forest land would be punished under the Law on Forestry, he said on Friday, speaking at an annual general meeting of the agricultural sector in Phnom Penh.

The land would be reclaimed by the state and turned over to military veterans as social land concessions, he added.

“We must continue to promote reform of forest boundaries and permanent forest assets, enhance classification to identify areas of forest degradation and restore the forests.”

But rights groups and the opposition yesterday said Hun Sen’s comments “didn’t make any difference”.

“The appeal . . . is too late, because concessions have seriously affected natural resources and people’s livelihoods since 2008,” Chan Soveth, senior monitor at rights group Adhoc, said. “If [he] wants to have some natural resources left, he should take huge measures against any company that has senior government officials behind it.”

Cambodia National Rescue Party whip Son Chhay agreed.

“It is not the first time the prime minister has said that. But it doesn’t make any difference. If they [companies] violate the contract, then take the land away. It’s that simple.

“The real soldiers who need land, there’s not a lot of them. This land will go into the hands of corrupt generals.”

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