The Ratanakkiri Provincial Administrative Land Management Committee plans to request the national government to allocate nearly 900,000ha of disputed forested areas covering nine districts in the province to people who rely on the land for their livelihoods.
Some of the land was allocated to people by the government in 2002, but some of the land remained state-owned and has been encroached upon.
The provincial deputy governor Nhem Sam Oeurn said on March 8 that the request was made after the head of the government had ordered a committee to research and demarcate the land that people had cleared for personal ownership.
He further said that people had used the land to grow crops. While other people didn’t live in the province but they had land and crops in the province. Some people had two to three plots measuring one to three hectares.
“We don’t care if the people had legally occupied the land before July 2020, when Samdech [Hun Sen] allocated it to them. We just want to ensure they haven’t encroached on state land,” he said.
He added that the land is a kind of degraded land with brushwood and dense semi-forest. There is not a lot of forest. The land is near villages and people have kept clearing it to grow crops.
Sam Oeurn said that once the government has allocated the land, a working group would conduct an inspection for verification. If everything is in order, the working group will ensure people don’t clear land that doesn’t belong to them.
Provincial department of information director Kol Phanna said that on March 5, the provincial administration had held a meeting to prepare a report for the provincial administrative land management committee. The committee would then request relevant ministries about who had been allocated land in 2002.
He said that he has not yet reported who was allocated land in 2002 or how many families would be granted land.
Din Korny, a coordinator for Adhoc in Ratanakkiri province, welcomed the efforts by the provincial administration and relevant institutions to demarcate and allocate the land in the province. It is good that there will no longer be land disputes.
He said that there had been disputes between locals and powerful people. People had encroached and cleared land. Other people had occupied land for a very long time before and after the Land Law became effective.
“All of them still don’t have titles, so it is easy for them to fall into conflict. Once land is clearly demarcated and registered then it will be clear which land belongs to the people and the state. There will no longer be disputes. It will be easy to protect it,” Din Korny said.