Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Land dispute ‘task force’ to be established in Ratanakkiri




Land dispute ‘task force’ to be established in Ratanakkiri

The senior minister in charge of special missions, Ly Thuch (centre), greets ethnic villagers on Tuesday in Ratanakkiri province during a public forum that addressed land disputes. Photo supplied
The senior minister in charge of special missions, Ly Thuch (centre), greets ethnic villagers on Tuesday in Ratanakkiri province during a public forum that addressed land disputes. Photo supplied

Land dispute ‘task force’ to be established in Ratanakkiri

Senior Minister in charge of Special Missions Ly Thuch announced yesterday that a land dispute resolution task force will be created for Ratanakkiri province, although observers said the move was coming too late.

In line with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s instructions to resolve land disputes related to economic land concessions (ELCs), Thuch said “citizens need land to do farming, so [we are] asking the ELC owners to share the land with villagers in favour of the villagers”.

“We ask the [provincial] authorities to create a task force group to finalise the land disputes, taking care of the citizens’ interests the most,” he said in speeches to crowds of mostly ethnic minority citizens in Taveng and Andong Meas districts on Monday and Tuesday.

Authorities must respond to the needs of the people, however they must be locals, he continued – migrants from other areas will be viewed as land grabbers. “[Hun Sen] offers ownership to specifically local people,” he said.

To ensure this, Thuch recommended that authorities clearly demarcate village, commune and district boundaries. Villagers, he continued, are encouraged to make phone calls to their local authorities, asking for intervention in any disputes.

Phat Sambath, Andong Meas deputy district governor, who attended Thuch’s speech, said that the creation of the task force would reflect the will of the people.

“Villagers want ownership of the forest like before. They want a lot of ancient land and forest,” Sambath said. “The villagers do not want the government to give land to companies.”

Pan Kirivuth a security employee of the Swift Rubber Company in O’Chum district, however, maintained that villagers tend to grab land granted to companies by contract, especially land that remains untouched.

“When the people grab [land], how can the company grow to meet the contract with the government?” he said.

However, companies’ use of government contracts made with disregard for villagers is the main obstacle to dispute resolution, according to Chhay Thy, the provincial coordinator for rights groups Adhoc.

“So far we’ve got 65 cases of land disputes from the people in Ratanakkiri province, but we saw only seven cases have been properly solved. This because of the company relies on the investment contract,” Thy said.

As for the task force’s promised directive to side with the people, Thy said it seemed to come too late given that for many their land has already been cleared by companies.

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.