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NGO report: Gov’t wrong to evict poor

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On April 24, authorities took a bulldozer to Boeung Samrong Lake, where 18 families living there claimed they had been there since 1979. William Guang

NGO report: Gov’t wrong to evict poor

Prek Pnov district authorities have denied a report by NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) which claims that it continued to evict poor families from their homes over the past three months while they struggled financially due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An STT report seen by The Post on Monday said: “Many poor citizens were evicted even though they are facing financial crises caused by Covid-19.”

STT released the 56-page report about eviction and resettlement in June. It analysed the process of evictions and resettlements from 1982 to last year in Phnom Penh with a focus on human rights.

It found that most evictions were not done according to the human rights standard set by the UN.

In several cases, it claimed that the authorities did not properly inform residents before they were evicted.

Continuously evicting poor citizens during the spread of Covid-19 indicated that the government is acting in contradiction to human rights standards.

“On June 20, the authorities bulldozed citizens’ houses in Boeng Chhouk community. Our members tried to consult with authorities, but they bulldozed 13 houses without prior discussion.

“On June 11, Prek Pnov Military Police and authorities forcefully evicted about 100 families from their shelters in the Boeung Tamok Lake area.

“On April 24, authorities took a bulldozer to Boeung Samrong Lake, where 18 families living there claimed they had been there since 1979,” said the report.

Prek Pnov district governor Sok Sambath told The Post that a sub-decree in 2007 designated the Boeung Samrong Lake area as state property.

Municipal hall officials are working with related authorities to renovate the area and build a new path around the lake, which measures 300ha.

“It [the path] is 80 per cent complete. The state compensated citizens for the cost of fish [raised by citizens] in the pond. We have compensated the price of each fish and we are 90 per cent done providing the compensation. No one was evicted,” Sambath said.

STT executive director Soeung Saran claimed in the report that some poor citizens were badly affected by Covid-19 and many lost their jobs and income.

“STT calls for the government to consider stopping evictions of poor people until Covid-19 and its effects have gone. After this pandemic, we call for the government to respect its own citizens’ rights and conduct consultations before evicting them,” he said.

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