Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Land disputes centre stage at capital forum

Land disputes centre stage at capital forum

Land disputes centre stage at capital forum

A broad spectrum of villager representatives, civil society organisations and government officials – large land-concession holders among them – met in the capital for the ninth year in a row yesterday to discuss the Kingdom’s seemingly intractable issue of land disputes.

The latest iteration of the event once again called for an expedient solution to ongoing disputes and registration issues and for a thorough study to be launched into the social and environmental effects of large-scale economic land concessions (ELCs).

Lorn Savy, a land and forest community representative from Pursat province, said that while authorities often give cases of alleged abuse a cursory examination, solutions are seldom found.

“Once the community faces challenges, they [authorities] only inspect the cases . . . not many solutions have been figured out,” she said.

NGO Forum executive director Tek Vannara yesterday held that it was the government’s responsibility to measure land, create a standardised land compensation policy and monitor environmental and social impacts.

Ruling-party Senator and land concessionaire Mong Reththy, whose companies were placed on a Ministry of Environment watch list in March for purportedly failing to live up to investment provisions, said a lack of understanding between parties had slowed solutions to land disputes.

“We need time to understand each other . . . Sometimes, the demanders ask for too much, and sometimes, the demanders ask for less, but they still do not get the claim,” he said.

Land Management Ministry spokesman Sarun Rithear welcomed suggestions, but said that existing government mechanisms were by and large doing their job.

“For land registration, we have completed four million plots of land and many land disputes have been ended as well. We will continue solving those problems. We accept this appeal,” he said.

Environment Ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap said the ministry works with communities affected by ELCs in protected areas in order to “take into account the priority of the people”.

But Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee chief Suon Bunsak, echoing a longstanding criticism of the government, said that while there are laws on the books, the failure of authorities to respect them remains an obstacle.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALESSANDRO MARAZZI SASSOON

MOST VIEWED

  • US imposes sanctions on Oknha Pheap and Kun Kim

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed strong dismay on Monday over the designation of Cambodian tycoon Oknha Try Pheap and General Kun Kim under the US’ Global Magnitsky Act. “It is very disturbing when the public figures of a country become the

  • Mother, daughter killed in hotel fire

    The bodies of a mother and daughter were found locked in an embrace after they were killed in a hotel fire in Phnom Penh at around 3:30am on Wednesday at the Phkar Chhouk Tep 2 Hotel and Restaurant in Phsar Doeum Kor commune, in the capital’

  • EBA withdrawal a destruction of EU achievements, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the EU’s possible suspension of its Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement amounted to a destruction of its achievements in the Kingdom and the demise of the opposition group. Hun Sen made the remarks while addressing more than 6,700 students during

  • Rights Day forum denied in Sihanoukville

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration last Saturday denied the request of land communities for a public location in the province to celebrate International Human Rights Day 2019 as the administration had already held forums to discuss land issues. However, the land community representatives said they would

  • US told to refrain from interfering in Sokha case

    Senior Cambodian officials said on Thursday that the US can monitor Kem Sokha’s trial as it wishes but would not be allowed to interfere in court procedures. The point was made in response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Wednesday

  • Europe expected to consider EBA efforts, impact

    The government said it expects the European Commission to consider its efforts to comply with the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) regulations and the impact on one million workers should access to the agreement be suspended in February. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation