Representatives of communities across the country who have had their lives upturned by development projects yesterday called on the government to rescind the economic land concessions at the centre of their disputes.
At a press conference in Phnom Penh, farming, fishing and forestry communities said they had lost their land and homes to private companies, and faced arrest and abuse when attempting to protest.
Um Sophy, the representative of a community in Kampong Chhnang province locked in a dispute with politically connected company KDC International, said that issues have arisen across the country because of government-granted ELCs.
“I would like the government to look at every form of development that makes people suffer,” she said.
Kuch Veng, a community representative from Pursat province, said a moratorium issued in 2012 on the granting of ELCs to private companies has not stopped land disputes.
“We would have liked the government to stop granting all ELCs there and then, because nowadays they just say they have stopped but the companies are still grabbing people’s land,” he said.
Environment Ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap could not be reached.
Eang Sophalleth, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the government has already revoked the licenses of dozens of companies that have not met their commitments to invest in developing land.