Gov’t issues own dispute data

People dismantle a dwelling in Sen Sok district during a land dispute
People dismantle a dwelling in Sen Sok district during a land dispute. The Ministry of Land Management released its figures on land disputes recently, claiming that there has been a reduction of land dispute cases since 2013. Vireak Mai

Gov’t issues own dispute data

After heaping criticism on rights group Licadho for allegedly exaggerating the seriousness of Cambodia’s land rights crisis last month, the government has released its own annual report on land disputes.

However, the report omits an overall figure for the number of disputes or affected families, making comparisons with Licadho’s findings difficult.

In a statement on February 19, Licadho said that land disputes had surged in 2014, after it received complaints involving more than 10,000 families. The figure had leapt from fewer than 3,500 in 2013, prompting condemnation from activists and claims the data were a “fabrication” from the government.

The government called on Licadho to submit its records for review, which the group did on Thursday.

In a letter the following day, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction said that its own figures showed land disputes had significantly declined over the past few years, from 990 cases in 2013 to 750 cases last year, after the ministry “resolved” 240 cases. But its annual report released yesterday offered different figures still.

The government had ended 330 disputes covering a total area of 1,598 hectares and involving 2,432 families, it said. Twenty-four cases were dismissed and 62 withdrawn by the complainants, the report noted.

Ou Vordy, an undersecretary of state at the ministry, stressed the difficulty of assessing and mediating land disputes during the launch of the report yesterday.

“The process of solving the disputes takes a long time, because we need to conduct site inspections, and the land management of the dispute sides is unclear, and all of them want to win,” she said.

Bin Chhin, a deputy prime minister who includes land dispute resolution in his portfolio, said the government was hard at work to improve land management and distribution in the hopes of meeting its poverty reduction goals.

“We keep working towards land solutions through all of the national land management committees and administrative committees in order to reduce the number of land disputes,” he said.

But the government is working with insufficient data, according to Licadho.

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator at the rights group, said the government’s reliance only on official data from its agencies meant it was not in a position to assess the true scale of the current land rights crisis.

“I think the Ministry of Land Management should study our report and find resolutions for people who have suffered real land disputes,” he said.

Data released by Licadho last April showed that Cambodia had passed what it called a “shameful milestone”, with land conflicts having affected more than half a million people since 2000.

MOST VIEWED

  • Twenty years after Pol Pot died a broken man, his memory looms large

    Two decades have passed, but Mea Chron still stands by Pol Pot. Most days he also stands by the mass murderer’s cremation site, keeping guard in the Khmer Rouge’s last stronghold of Anlong Veng. Pol Pot, the widely reviled despot who spearheaded the

  • Reuters: US Embassy fired 32 staff members for sharing pornography

    The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh has fired 32 non-diplomatic staff members who were allegedly caught exchanging pornographic images and video, including of minors, according to the news agency Reuters. Four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the content was shared in

  • ‘Trouble’ foreseen in Khmer New Year almanac

    At 9:12am on Saturday, Cambodia’s devout can expect the arrival of Moha Thorathevey, an angel on a peacock holding a trident in one hand and an auspicious serrated wheel in the other. The angel, who has a liking for water hyacinths, will usher in

  • Our 2018 guide to spending Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

    Khmer New Year festivities are upon us. For the next few days, travellers will be making their way to their home provinces to eat, celebrate, play traditional games and visit a pagoda with offerings. If you will be staying put in Phnom Penh for the