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Gov’t denies land issues

Youth volunteers get ready to depart Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich to take part in a government-run land title program in 2012.
Youth volunteers get ready to depart Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich to take part in a government-run land title program in 2012. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t denies land issues

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction issued a statement on Saturday defending its track record and denying that Germany ended its support for the ministry’s land rights program due to a lack of transparency and sluggish reform pace.

“The German side accepted that there was much development and achievements from the 20 years of cooperation,” a two-page statement released on Saturday read.

“The ministry would like to inform the public that the second phase of technical support on land rights from the German side will end in June 2016, according to a bilateral agreement. This was not due to any failures.”

Despite years of reforms, land disputes have continued to erupt across Cambodia. According to rights group Licadho, the number of new families affected by land conflicts tripled in 2014, to more than 10,000, from the year before.

However, the letter boasted that the government had handed out 4.2 million private land titles to people so far, including 710,000 plots of land for 400,000 families from 2012 to 2013.

Additionally, the ministry had settled 3,335 land conflicts on its own “outside the courts”.

Ministry spokesman Cheam Sophal Makara declined to explain exactly why Germany would end so many years of support at this time.

“Normally, a project has an end date. So, it will end according to plan,” he said.

The official in charge of Germany’s program referred questions to the German Embassy. Ambassador Joachim Baron Von Marshall did not respond to a request for comment.

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