Lawmakers ask ministry to halt UDG eviction

Lawmakers ask ministry to halt UDG eviction

Parliament's Human Rights Commission has asked the Ministry of Justice to suspend a court verdict that could see 20 Koh Kong families, who are holding out against giant Chinese firm Union Development Group, lose their homes.

The families, from Kiri Sakor district’s Koh Sdach commune, were ordered to demolish their homes within 15 days of the verdict on February 2.

In a letter to the Justice Ministry dated Tuesday, commission chairman Eng Chhay Eang said the Union Development Group (UDG) had broken its contract with the government and ignored a Council of Ministers order to suspend forced evictions of those families who had not accepted the company’s offers of compensation.

“We would like to ask the minister to help intervene with the Koh Kong Provincial Court to suspend the verdict implementation so that the inter-ministerial committee of the government can settle the case for the people peacefully, based on the government’s policy,” Chhay Eang said.

Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap said he had yet to receive the letter, adding that the ministry would “consider looking at the case”.

UDG holds a 36,000-hectare economic land concession to develop a huge resort area and several planned industrial projects, as well as a 9,000-hectare concession to build a dam.

In January, villagers and company security guards threw rocks and petrol bombs at each other, as locals attempted to stop trucks intent on filling in a road to keep residents out of their village. The clash was just the latest in a series of standoffs between locals and the company since 2008.

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