Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oral sanctuary land grab thwarted



Oral sanctuary land grab thwarted

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Nearly 100 people from Trapaing Thmea village were stopped on Wednesday from grabbing more than 200ha illegally in the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Speu province. Facebook

Oral sanctuary land grab thwarted

Kampong Speu provincial police and NGO ACNCIPO director Chea Hean stopped nearly 100 people from grabbing more than 200ha illegally in the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary on Wednesday.

The incident occurred at the Trapaing Thmea village in Oral district.

Hean said on Wednesday the people intended to claim the area for private ownership and prepared to build sheds and clear forest land to grow crops. Authorities intervened and the 100 or so families protested.

He said they eventually listened to instructions and returned to their respective homes.

“We explained to them that we stop all forms of forest land encroachment. If any person clears State land, we will cooperate with the police to build a case,” he said.

Trapaing Thmea villager Hong Vuthy, 35, said on Wednesday that villagers had occupied the land and relied on it for their livelihoods since 2012. But they had no titles or recognition from local authorities. However, he agreed to leave the land.

He urged the authorities to act against powerful individuals because he doesn’t want to see biased actions against the people.

Vuthy said he received information that the authorities had cracked down on ordinary people, but allowed powerful and wealthy individuals to occupy State land illegally.

“We agree not to occupy the land anymore, but we request the authorities to investigate with transparency and justice because I am afraid we will be evicted only to have the land given to others.

“I am a poor citizen. We plan to write letters asking the authorities for land in the area for our families’ livelihoods,” he said.

Trasal commune chief Dul Sokhom said 100 families had gathered to grab the State land. Even though the authorities had repeatedly warned them, they did not listen and illegally built huts.

He said five of the families asked him last week to sign documents recognising the grabbed land, but he refused and told them to stop because the land is protected by a royal decree.

“The villagers saw a lot of empty land, so they gathered to grab it, but we cannot meet such demands,” he said, adding that some villagers already had land granted to them by the authorities, but they sold it and tried to get new land.

A notice released by the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary office on August 14 and seen by The Post on Wednesday said the encroachment is against the law as stipulated under Article 62 of the Law on Natural Protected Areas, which was promulgated by a royal decree dated February 15, 2008.

The notice said any persons who violated the article would be punished as committing grade-4 natural resources offences, which carry a prison sentence of five to 10 years and a fine of up to 150 million riel ($36,700). Evidence will be seized as State property.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting