Sixteen representatives from 16 indigenous groups and communities from the capital and across 11 provinces met on October 19 with a Senate commission to submit eight points relevant to the draft amendment to laws on forests and protected areas.

Indigenous communities representative Tep Tim told The Post on October 19 that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss draft amendments to the 2008 Protected Areas Law and 2002 Forestry Law.

“The Senate is not the one deciding, but it has intervened for indigenous people regarding their concerns. They welcomed us and accepted our points,” Tim said.

She said the Senate had confirmed that of the eight points, the relevant ministries had accepted five, while three others were under consideration.

Of the three points, she said, the first was the inclusion of "indigenous communities", because the draft amendment had stipulated only "local communities", while the second was the inclusion of "crop rotation".

The third was a request for including the terms of community forestry agreements, with protected area communities having the same time periods and protections as economic land concessions.

Chhim Samuth, another indigenous representative, said on October 20 that representatives of indigenous communities had met with the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) on August 8.

The NCDD had said that while composing the draft amendment had finished, it was still possible to request additional inputs, with the indigenous communities submitting the eight points.

Samuth said the Senate had confirmed that the draft law had completed the inter-ministerial stage on August 8 and been submitted to the Ministry of Justice for review.

Kim Santepheap, secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, told The Post on October 20 that a ministry team was still reviewing the draft amendment and nothing had been finalised.