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Kratie land disputes to be ‘resolved by experts’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Some 800 protesters representing 1,642 families demonstrated in front of The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction on Wednesday. Heng Chivoan

Kratie land disputes to be ‘resolved by experts’

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction on Wednesday ordered 19 experts to identify the families locked in a land dispute in Snuol district, in Kratie province, and find solutions for them through economic land concessions.

Some 800 protesters representing 1,642 families demonstrated in front of the ministry on Wednesday, before walking to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house to submit their petition.

While enroute there, they were blocked near the Vietnamese embassy causing a woman to faint during the confrontation.

The order to the experts was signed by the ministry’s administrative director and spokesman, Seng Lot.

The team was headed by the director-general of its housing department, Peng Hong Socheat Khemro, and other officials.

“The team must work with the Kratie provincial authority to identify the families based on the list of people who protested when the government granted the economic land concession to Memot Rubber Plantation Co Ltd."

“This will help to identify those who qualify for a solution [in land disputes] in a form of economic land concessions in accordance with government policy and legal procedure,” the order said.

The representative for Pi Tnou commune’s 1,642 families, Touch Dol, told The Post that the people were happy to meet the Minister, Chea Sophara, personally and have the opportunity to inform him of their difficulties.

Sophara, Dol said, confirmed at the meeting that he will prevent those with ill-intent, who were not on the list of protesters and wanted to prevent a resolution of the problem.

“After I receive the land [from] the government, I will plant cassava, cucumbers, and other vegetables for my family. I will build a small house to live in,” said a beaming Dol.

‘Ill-intentioned people’

Rights group Adhoc spokesman Soeung Sen Karuna applauded the government’s newly formed team, as the people have been waiting for years for a solution.

However, he said: “I fear that there are people with ill-intentions who will misuse this opportunity for their personal gain. The newly formed committee must pay attention to this so as to prevent it from happening. The process must be transparent, fair, and just,” Karuna said.

In addition to forming a team of experts to solve the land dispute, the minister met with 35 of the protesters’ representatives on Wednesday.

After the meeting, the ministry said in a press release that their representatives had agreed and confirmed that some people had cleared the land granted to Memot Rubber Plantation Co Ltd by the government as an economic land concession because they lacked land to cultivate.

They agreed to return to their homes and work with the Kratie provincial authority to help identify those who actually lived on the land.

They also agreed to accept any land size and location granted to them.

The government has consistently tried to find a solution for the people registered as protesters.

To obtain social land concessions, they need to submit applications to the authority and follow the legal procedures.

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