Community representative Lim Sambo (second from right) collects documents ahead of Monday's hearing.
PHNOM Penh Municipal Court Monday rejected an injunction request filed by residents of Group 78 against their eviction in another blow to the tiny community situated on a strip of land along the Tonle Bassac river that is slated for development.
"Our injunction was rejected on the grounds that the court has no jurisdiction to intervene to prohibit City Hall's order, as well as deny the public benefits served by the construction of a road on land where [Group 78 members] are living illegally," said a lawyer for the residents, Yin Savath.
He added that community members intended to appeal the decision, as they had sufficient evidence to prove that the land belongs to them.
"We will file an appeal to halt construction activity until a final resolution is reached, as it has yet to be [ruled upon] whether either City Hall or the 70 households have legal ownership of the land," he said.
Yin Savath and two other lawyers appeared in court with four community representatives, none of whom were called upon by Judge Duch Kimsean to testify, Yin Savath said, adding that he was disappointed the community was not able to give its side of the story in court.
In an eviction letter dated April 20, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema told residents they were living on land that belonged to the city and a local developer.
The community was given 15 days to vacate the land and accept a government compensation package.
But the National Assembly's Committee on Human Rights issued an order to Kep Chuktema on May 5 to conduct an official investigation into the dispute, following a request by Group 78 members to overturn the eviction notice.
A report from the inquiry has yet to be drafted, Yin Savath said.