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Govt launches Borei Keila probe

Govt launches Borei Keila probe

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Some 120 families have lodged a complaint saying they have been cheated out of the homes they are entitled to at the relocation project; now a government delegation will investigate

HENG CHIVOAN

Residents at Borei Keila last week. Some residents claim they have been cheated out of houses they are entitled to.

AGOVERNMENT delegation will investigate the complaint of 120 Borei Keila families who say that they have been deprived of their right to a new apartment under the government's relocation scheme, officials said Sunday.

Sok Phalla, deputy chief of the Department of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Investigations (NASRI), confirmed that he will be leading the investigation.

"I am working on the [Borei Keila] case, but I can't tell when [the investigation] will finish," he said, adding that while he has visited the site he cannot disclose additional information about the investigation while it is ongoing.

The 120 families, who say that they were eligible for apartments in the new buildings at Borei Keila, sent a letter of complaint to Prime Minister Hun Sen in July alleging that they have been deprived of this right by local authorities and are being temporarily sheltered in poor conditions.

The investigation was initiated when Men Sam On, the former minister of NASRI, called for the creation of a delegation to examine the problem on August 20 in response to the resident's complaint.

Borei Keila is the only remaining social land concession, a scheme that was announced by the Council of Ministers in June 2003 as a way to upgrade poor settlements around Phnom Penh.

Resettlement 'derailed'

The government contracted Phanimex company to build 10 apartment buildings to re-house 1,776 families slated for eviction. Only three buildings have been constructed to date.

Naly Pilorge, director of local rights group Licadho, said she hopes the investigation will improve the lot of the 120 affected families, but added she had doubts as to whether it would be effective. "This is what [the government] does all the time. We hope that their intentions are legitimate, but [investigation] delegations have been set down before [in similar cases] and nothing has happened," she said.

Manfred Hornung, legal consultant at Licadho, said Thursday that the resettlement scheme "derailed" due to a nontransparent allocation process.

"We have observed a trend, where [the] most vulnerable families, which by definition should get a place in a social concession, are now being deprived of their rights and other families are given priority. This is in contravention of the spirit of the social land concession."  

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