Thirteen people representing 20 Borey Keila families gathered in front of the headquarters of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and Phnom Penh City Hall yesterday, demanding the two institutions accelerate the settlement.
Each of the affected families is demanding accommodation in Andong village on the outskirts of the capital and $3,000 in return for their relocation.
Kheng Tha, a 60-year-old Borei Keila resident, said the families had submitted a petition to the Ministry of Land Management and Urbanisation for intervention, but the ministry said the case was the responsibility of City Hall, which did not do anything when asked to intervene. They finally went to the ACU because “there is no other choice”, she said.
“We are the last 20 families that have not received compensation, while the other families already received it,” Tha said. “We hope the authorities will agree to our demands because this has lasted so many years already.”
The dispute originated in 2004 when residents of Borei Keila were asked to move from their homes to make way for a project by developers Phanimex. At the time, the company agreed to build 10 new buildings to relocate displaced residents but has only followed through with eight.
Suy Sophan, the owner of Phanimex, claimed that the eight buildings would be enough for relocated families, something dismissed by those affected, with some being forced to relocate to a remote area in Kampong Speu.
Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said they had received a petition from Borey Keila families and would be reviewing their demands.
“We will look at our list again for the affected people who have not received compensation. But for those whose names are not on our list, we cannot do anything for them,” Meas Pheakdey said, citing cases where people pretended to be part of the affected to claim land and money.
Chea Sophara, the Minister of Land Management and Urbanization, in November vowed to solve over 100 land disputes between Phanimex and residents.
He also criticised the owner of Phanimex for the breaking of its contract with the government on the development in Borei Keila and other sites.
Oum Som Art, a monitoring manager for human rights watchdog Licadho, said that, while he had noticed a decline in evictions, people were still demanding compensation who should be receiving better attention from the authorities. “Otherwise, people will only get poorer,” he said.