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AI issues challenge on forced evictions

AI issues challenge on forced evictions

Political parties contesting the July 27 election have been challenged to publicly declare their views on land-grabbing and forced evictions, which have become a major issue in recent years.

The challenge was issued by human rights watchdog Amnesty International in a July 7 statement in which it urged the 11 parties registered with the National Election Commission to announce publicly that they will halt forced evictions.

The statement also called on the parties to add commitments to their platforms on the issue, including a moratorium on mass evictions until legislation is enacted requiring future evictions to comply with international human rights laws.

Amnesty said other commitments should include ensuring that victims of forced evictions have access to shelter, clean water, sanitation, health services and education.

“Amnesty International has provided detailed recommendations to the government of what action needs to be taken to end forced evictions,” Brittis Edman, a researcher on Southeast Asia at the watchdog’s London headquarters, said in an email to the Post.

Am Sam Ath, from the human rights NGO Licadho, said 98 land-seizure cases involving 5,252 families in 2007, and 51 cases involving 3,275 families were recorded in the first six months of this year.

“If each family contains around five people, the number of victims over the past three years reaches into the hundred thousands.”   

Licadho president Kek Galabru highlighted the 2006 case of the Sambok Chap community, which saw about 3,000 families evicted from their homes.

“Two years on, these families are still living in appalling conditions,” Galabru said.

“Licadho entirely supports what Amnesty International has recommended,” she said.

For human rights groups, the need to address this problem has become more urgent as the July elections approach.

“Cambodian voters are not stupid,” said Galabru.

“After the elections, people may not have the opportunity to get their cases solved. In the run-up to the elections, while politicians are looking for their support, people can go to the parties and pressure them to promise that they will consider the land-grabbing issue.”

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