The governor of Kampot province told The Post on Thursday that he has ordered authorities in the province’s districts to collect data on all land disputes in order to bring them to a speedy resolution.
Cheav Tay said some land disputes have been resolved by district authorities and some have been sent to be resolved at the provincial level.
“In the past, we collected data only from people who asked provincial authorities to help resolve land disputes. I am collecting all data clearly now because previous governors did not do so,” he said.
Tay said that in the past he has resolved land disputes by issuing titles to villagers, adding that he is currently in the process of negotiating with the Cambodian government over privatising state land so it can be designated to solve such disputes.
Heng Soeun, a representative of more than 300 families involved in land disputes over more than 2,000ha in the province’s Trapaing Phlaing commune, said Tay has promised to make efforts to resolve land disputes for his community.
Soeun said villagers have a lot of hope in the new governor as he has made efforts to meet them directly, unlike previous provincial governors.
Soeun said land disputes in Trapaing Plaing commune started in 2014 after a land dealer who claimed he was an adviser to National Assembly President Heng Samrin encroached on the community land.
Villagers filed a complaint to authorities and came out to protest, but in response, they had their crops destroyed, lost their shelters and were beaten if they tried to return to their land.
“People did not sell their land but the land dealer came and illegally took it. They asked to buy our land and although we refused, they still took it and when we agreed to accept a small amount of money, they would not pay us the full amount owed, but only $200 or $300,” he said.
Thorn Sokha, another villager from Trapaing Phaing commune, said that he has more than 7ha of land he says he’s owned since 2004 involved in a land dispute. He said that the same land dealer beat his wife and children and chased them out of their home to take the land.
Yun Phally, the provincial coordinator for right groups Adhoc, called for authorities to speed up the resolution for villagers.
“We see that Tay’s authorities will take measures to resolve disputes for villagers. But in some areas, the resolutions are delayed, meaning that the provincial authorities promised but when we collect information from the villagers it has not been done."
“Provincial authorities promise, but in reality, the decision depends on people above them,” he said.