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Land dispute resolution teams unveiled

Land activists protest at the Ministry of Land Management on Thursday in Phnom Penh.
Land activists protest at the Ministry of Land Management on Thursday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Land dispute resolution teams unveiled

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction unveiled the team members and case loads of the 27 land dispute resolution teams it announced it was creating on June 3 in an effort to more quickly handle such conflicts.

Each team has four members, for a total of 108 individuals, who will address 84 complaints received by the ministry, covering Phnom Penh and 18 provinces. Most teams are in charge of three cases, with one team handling four, and one handling five.

Chhem Nharn, who represents 45 families in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district, locked in a land dispute over 233 hectares with the Than Sour Company, said that they filed a petition to seek intervention from the ministry in mid-June. Their dispute is listed among those being taken up by the ministry working groups, but as of yesterday they still hadn’t heard anything.

“[I hope] the ministry solves the dispute quickly since this is the month for planting, but the people do not have land to cultivate,” Nham said.

Eang Vuthy, executive director of NGO Equitable Cambodia, said his organisation has been monitoring many land dispute resolution committees in the past few years, but “they have not been functioning well”.

Regarding the new teams, Vuthy said he was “very much wary about it”.

“Land issues are complicated. The ministry said they will be responsible, and that’s a very good comment, but we’ll wait to see the action.”

He said the teams need to address big development problems, such as the railway, the airport and ongoing sugar company disputes. “We want to see progress and a move forward.”

Minister Chea Sophara, appointed in April, and Te Bunna, a member of the team with five disputes, declined to comment.

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