Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Indigenous groups call on gov’t for speedy registration of collective land

Indigenous groups call on gov’t for speedy registration of collective land

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Members of several indigenous groups take part in a ceremony at a national consultative seminar on Thursday. HEAN RANGSEY

Indigenous groups call on gov’t for speedy registration of collective land

Representatives of 24 indigenous groups from 15 provinces on Thursday urged the government to solve their outstanding land dispute and expedite the process of registering their collective farmland to prevent private companies grabbing it.

The appeal was made during a national consultative seminar under the theme “Strategic Planning for the Preservation and Development of Indigenous Communities. The event was attended by government and civil society organisation representatives and around 300 indigenous people.

Tep Toem, one of the representatives, said indigenous communities are most concerned about land grab and forest clearance by companies that have received economic land concessions. She said such encroachment has cost them livelihood, shelters and traditions, among others.

Toem said while her community relied on forest and mountain land, and natural ponds and canals for a living, some private companies had turned them into sugarcane plantations.

Although the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction had measured and registered her community’s collective farmland, she said the measurement was done with errors and did not correspond to their wishes.

She urged the government to help return the land and register it as collective land for indigenous communities.

“We call on relevant ministries to help solve our land dispute and register our collective land as soon as possible so that we have enough rights to use it for farming.

“We are so worried that one day a company’s machinery would be sent to demolish our houses while we are sleeping,” she said.

Kreung Tola, a Bunong community representative from Mondulkiri province who also attended the seminar, said indigenous people are generally left homeless while locked in land dispute.

He said most of them were forced to migrate for work abroad, especially Thailand, after losing their land and forest.

“We have sought solutions to our land dispute so many times, but the top leaders just sent officials to inspect our land for a while and then backed off. Their work seems to be so late,” he said.

Pheap Sophea, land and forest programme manager at NGO Forum on Cambodia, said some indigenous communities in Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng, and Koh Kong provinces are still mired in land dispute with companies that had received economic land concessions from the government.

He said late land registration resulted from a lack of cooperation among relevant parties and budget to do the work, while indigenous people lack clear legal land documentation to show to the authorities.

Sophea urged relevant authorities to speedily register their land anyway.

“Indigenous communities do not have clear legal land documentation at all. They urge the government to register their collective land because they want to protect it,” he said.

Ministry of Land Management spokesman Seng Lout declined to comment on Thursday.

Nuon Danhel, Ministry of Rural Development secretary of state who presided over the seminar, said the ministry formed a technical team in May to implement action plans for the preservation and development of indigenous communities.

He said the ministry was working with other relevant institutions to set up fund needed to execute the action plans.

“We are really a bit late in registering their land because some in the indigenous communities do not fully cooperate with our officials,” he said.

According to a report from the Ministry of Rural Development, there are 24 groups of ethnic minorities throughout the Kingdom, accounting for 1.34 per cent of the whole Cambodian population.

MOST VIEWED

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does