Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mondulkiri officials probe community landgrab

Mondulkiri officials probe community landgrab

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Backhoe loader clearing forest land in Mondulkiri province’s Pech Chreada district. Photo supplied

Mondulkiri officials probe community landgrab

Pech Chreada district authorities confirmed that they would investigate alleged community forest land grabbing in Puradet village in Mondulkiri province’s Sre Ampoum commune after residents have asked authorities to intervene, accusing a tycoon who holds the honourific title oknha and other prominent traders of being behind the land seizure.

On March 17, a bulldozer and unidentified traders continued to encroach upon the community forest land, although the communities have been protected, leading to a complaint to the court.

Seng Nop, a community member, said 1,323ha of their community land – recognised by the ministries of Interior and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – has been encroached upon by powerful people. More than 150 families are community members.

“This land is used by indigenous communities for farming. It is almost lost and we absolutely worry about it because there is no hope that we will get it back,” she said.

She added that the encroachment has been happening for many years and although the community has filed a lawsuit to the court, nothing has happened.

“They encroached upon it to build a resort for private ownership. The land is full of big trees. I wonder why they said they have a land title. I don’t understand this. As the farmland is from our ancestors, they cannot get a land title,” she confirmed.

Another member, who asked not to be named, told The Post that he worries about the community forest land that people are trying to protect will be lost, because the situation of encroachment still continues. He asked the authorities, especially the government to protect the land for the next generation of his indigenous people.

“We do not know the land clearer. We just heard that he is a nephew of a Chum Teav in Phnom Penh. When there is encroachment, there are always different people, but in fact it is the same group of the individuals,” he said.

“According to the map we have, this land is a collective of the forest protection community that we have tried to protect more and more. Now, it can no longer be protected,” he confirmed.

Pech Chreada district governor Meul Soeun confirmed that he did not know the land had been encroached upon. But he confirmed that he would send a team to investigate, however, he declined to comment on the community land.

“I do not have all the details, but maybe they have a land title. I will ask officials to inspect it, first,” he confirmed.

Song Kheang, director of provincial department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries declined to comment, saying that he had no information.

Soeung Sen Karuna, spokesman for rights group Adhoc said that land grabbing cases by rich and powerful people in Mondulkiri province has a series of issues, even though some actions from the government have been taken as well. But he stressed that cases continue to occur.

“Therefore, we urge the head of government to continue to send experts to conduct investigations on these cases again. If someone violates the law, legal action must be taken. It is also shows the impartial enforcement of the law,” he asked.

In 2017, community forest representatives filed a lawsuit to the provincial court to take action against wealthy individuals and traders who encroached on community land, but no action was taken, which led the community to continue to file a complaint to an Appeal of Court, according to community.


  • Five-year-old Hanuman dances his way into hearts of Cambodia

    A young talent from a new-established settlement has emerged, captivating the online world with his mesmerising performances of the traditional Cambodian monkey dance. Roeun Kakada is a five-year-old prodigy who has taken the social media sphere by storm with his exceptional dance skills and dedication

  • Fresh Covid warnings as Thai hospital fills

    A senior health official reminds the public to remain vigilant, as neighbouring countries experience an increase in Covid-19 cases, with the latest surge appearing to be a result of the Omicron XBB.1.5 sub-variant. Or Vandine, secretary of state and spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health,

  • Honda shutters Siem Reap football club

    Japanese football legend Keisuke Honda, the owner of Siem Reap football club Soltilo Angkor FC, has been forced to shut the club down, after it failed to attract sponsorship for the upcoming season. Honda, the former manager of the Cambodia men's national football team, said

  • Hun Sen warns of regional tensions

    ASIA is becoming a dangerous geopolitical hotspot, with several countries announcing that they intend to send naval vessels towards Southeast Asia and on to the South China Sea, warned Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Heated geopolitical issues can easily escalate, namely to war. I am not

  • PM declares ASEAN Para Games open

    The 12th ASEAN Para Games officially kicked off on the evening of June 3 at Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh, with a spectacular opening ceremony featuring fireworks and performances by some of the Kingdom’s most accomplished talents. Tens of thousands of sports fans

  • Waterway job still pending for Kampot tourism port’s opening

    The search is still on for a contractor to expand and deepen the Kampot International Tourism Port’s waterway and deliver additional enhancements allowing safe access for larger vessels, nearly a year after the main construction work on the 4.25ha site was completed on June 30, 2022.