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NGOs worried by draft law on seizure

NGOs worried by draft law on seizure

ABOUT 20 local and international nongovernmental groups have voiced concerns about the government’s new Draft Law on Expropriation, saying the legislation, which gives the government the right to seize land for projects deemed in the “public interest”, should be modified to protect residents’ rights.

Kong Bopha, head of the good governance programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, said the government should make sure the confiscation of properties is conducted properly, and that fair compensation is provided in return.

“We want to see the properties’ owners and the government seek an agreement before expropriation procedures take place, so no villagers become victims after the implementation of the law,” she said during a public debate held on Wednesday to discuss the law.

The draft Law on Expropriation, approved by the Council of Ministers last week, aims to define the principles, mechanism and procedures of official land expropriations for any construction, rehabilitation or infrastructure that benefits the public interest.

At the end of Wednesday’s session, NGOs issued a series of joint recommendations highlighting concerns in 16 of the draft law’s 39 articles.

Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, said that the expropriation law must be modified to ensure that it meets international human rights standards.

“We see that the draft law on expropriation has not yet been the subject of a public awareness campaign, and there has been little discussion with civil society and development partners,” he said.

Im Chhun Lim, minister of land management, said that if there were no expropriation law, it would be hard to determine fair compensation. “We would be killed by compensation if there was no appropriate land-management law,” he said.

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