LOCAL rights group Adhoc has asked the central government to cooperate in solving several land-grab complaints in Ratanakkiri after the provincial government refused to accept a petition filed by ethnic minorities over the clearing of their forest.
Adhoc sent a letter to Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Friday asking for his help after a protest by 50 villagers outside the Ratanakkiri provincial offices two days earlier failed to produce results.
O'Chum District Governor Moung Poy said he would not accept the villagers's complaint over land clearing in the district by an area businessman because it should have been first filed with lower-ranking officials.
"Human rights issues involving land grabbing are nearly always related to powerful and rich people so local authorities usually ignore the problem," said Adhoc's Ratanakkiri coordinator, Pen Bonna.
LOCAL AUTHORITIES USUALLY IGNORE THE PROBLEM.
"The governor asked the villagers to file the complaint at the commune level instead," he added.
Provincial Governor Bou Lam reiterated that the villagers should bring their complaints to the local authorities first.
"If we do not solve the problem, then they can complain to Adhoc," Bou Lam said.
"We are still waiting for their complaints."
Ethnic minorities , who have little by way of property titles, are especially vulnerable to land grabs.