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Families in R’kiri await land review

Families in R’kiri await land review

Legitimacy of land titles at the centre of dispute.

REPRESENTATIVES of a group of 78 families in Ratanakkiri province say they have yet to receive a response to their request for the government to review ownership documents that are at the centre of a land dispute with a private rubber company.

Khim Sok, one of the representatives, said they had submitted the request for a review on September 1.

He said the families believe the ownership documents – which have been used by the Tay Seng Company in its attempt to evict the families from a 450-hectare rubber plantation – were fake.

“I have all the documents to prove that the 450 hectares of land belong to the families, but there has not been any response so far,” he said.

Khim Sok pointed to an investigation conducted in 2007 by Bou Thong, a Ratanakkiri parliamentarian, which he said proved that the land belonged to the families.

He added that the 78 families began farming the land in 1988, nearly two decades before the company first laid claim to it in 2007.

But Pen Bonnar, the former provincial coordinator for the local rights group Adhoc, said the land was state-owned.

“The families have been farming it, but it was given to them on a temporary basis only,” he said.

Tay Seng, the president of the rubber company, could not be reached for comment Sunday, nor could Hem Sophal, head of the Ratanakkiri Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, whom Khim Sok has accused of colluding with the company.

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