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Gov’t body eyes clash of rights, development

Tek Vannara, the director of NGO Forum, talks at a training workshop yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Tek Vannara, the director of NGO Forum, talks at a training workshop yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Gov’t body eyes clash of rights, development

The National Council for Sustainable Development is creating a policy to prevent human rights violations and to reduce the environmental impact of development projects, deputy general director Ken Sereyrotha announced yesterday at a workshop on human rights and agribusiness hosted by NGO Forum.

“We are studying and discussing ways in which we can achieve economic growth while minimising environmental impacts and creating a [land dispute] resolution mechanism that is acceptable to all involved parties,” Sereyrotha said.

Past efforts to resolve the claims of Cambodians displaced by economic land concessions granted to agribusinesses have often been criticised by civil society as unsatisfactory.

NGO Forum’s Tek Vannara said companies need to take human rights seriously. “In the past, some companies affected the livelihoods of people due to improper implementation of laws and the lack of a common policy,” Vannara said

Sereyrotha said the government’s decision to develop a policy came as part of a broader response to falling support among the electorate since the last elections. “The ruling party believes that the decrease in support [can’t be ignored] if it is to keep doing its work of providing public services,” he said.

The council, formed last year, announced lofty goals at its first official planning meeting this August, but many observers were cynical of its chances of success.

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