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Kratie land dispute goes on

Villagers from Kratie province sit at Samaki Rainsy pagoda in Phnom Penh last month
Villagers from Kratie province sit at Samaki Rainsy pagoda in Phnom Penh last month. Hong Menea

Kratie land dispute goes on

Hundreds of families from Kratie province’s Snuol district who were promised new plots of land after a Vietnamese rubber firm evicted them last month have complained that provincial officials are allowing hundreds of interlopers to stake a claim instead.

The 405 families were evicted from the district’s Khsoem commune on May 2 and spent almost four weeks living in a Phnom Penh pagoda before accepting a government offer of a new 750-hectare social land concession in the same district on Sunday.

Nguon Vibol, a representative of the families, said yesterday that he intended to file a complaint to the government after discovering that the authorities responsible for drawing up the cadastral list had so far included about 1,040 families.

“We recognise only 405 families’ [claims]. We do not recognise the other people registered by the provincial officers. I think the authorities are putting pressure on us,” he said.

He added that people not in the original group of displaced families did not have a legitimate claim to the land and should be taken off the list.

“The authorities allow any people to register, so the authorities themselves have to find land for those people and the authorities cannot touch our land at all,” he said.

The families are mostly from Kampong Cham province and relocated to their former site in Snuol district in 2008. On May 2, Vietnamese rubber company Binh Phuoc II took over the 2,025-hectare site, which it plans to turn into a plantation.

Khan Chamnan, Kratie deputy governor, confirmed that more families had registered for the land than the original 405 who were displaced, but denied that it was the authorities’ responsibility to ensure that only those with a legitimate claim were included.

“The increase is their problem. It is not me who bloats the figures, and I don’t call and bring those people to come and register,” he said.

Chan Soveth, senior investigator at rights group Adhoc, said it was difficult enough to resolve the issue for the families who came to Phnom Penh, so the government should prioritise their requests.

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