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Ministry refuses to intervene in Koh Kong land dispute

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Koh Kong villagers involved in land disputes travelled to Phnom Penh to protest in front of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction last month. Heng Chivoan

Ministry refuses to intervene in Koh Kong land dispute

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction refused to intervene in land disputes in Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor district after 77 families involved in the conflict requested its intervention.

The ministry said those disputes had already been solved by an inter-ministerial committee.

A press release obtained by The Post on Wednesday said 77 families have requested the ministry’s intervention in the case. These families came from the Bak Ronoas, Ta Noun, Tuol Pou and Prek Khyang villages in Ta Noun commune.

Kun Sao, Mov Siden, Lim Aun and Phay Tuon, who represent the families, travelled to Phnom Penh to protest in front of the ministry on Tuesday. They requested its help to solve land disputes with Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG).

Each family is demanding one hectare of farmland.

After reviewing the case, the ministry found that the disputes had already been resolved.

It said each family was compensated with a plot of land measuring 50m by 100m and one to six hectares of farmland, depending on the size of the land that they occupied before they were displaced. Each family was also given a house and $350 to $10,000 in compensation.

However, Men Vuthy, a representative of the families, said they had not received any compensation.

He said in 2008, UDG bulldozed their farmland and village without offering any compensation. They had lived on that land for many generations, he said.

“I would like to ask the authorities to come and see the situation for themselves, and to investigate to know more about the plight of my people. The ministry’s announcement made us lose hope. We don’t know who can help us now,” he said.

Ta Noun commune chief Van Puthy said a special committee already gave the victims land, money, and wooden houses in 2010. But some of the victims sold the land and houses and asked for more compensation.

“They were offered compensation already. The company has no more land to give them,” he said.

Hour In, a Licadho human rights coordinator in Koh Kong, said he had monitored the case for nearly seven years.

He said the authorities compensated the victims with land, houses and money, but the compensation given was not always fair, particularly in cases where the victims owned large plots of land.

“The authorities should have reviewed the case. Some of the victims are not satisfied because they had 10ha or 20ha of farmland, but were given only 5ha like everyone else,” he said.

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