Prime Minister Hun Sen instructed the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to expedite the issuance of land titles and to solve land disputes and conflicts related to economic land concessions through non-judicial mechanisms when possible.

He made the remark on November 8 while presiding over the inauguration of the new building housing the land management ministry in Sen Sok district.

“Now, I want to recommend three main tasks to perform: Firstly, try to solve these problems by issuing land titles to the people. Secondly, make an effort to solve all remaining land disputes by using non-judicial mechanisms because that is a quicker way to find a solution. If the case reaches the courts there will inevitably be a winner and a loser,” Hun Sen said.

The third task for the ministry was solving conflicts related to economic land concessions effectively. He said providing land concessions to those who don’t have land remains one of the priorities that must be solved.

“We have constructed some homes for them. Now some more land has to be found for those who have no land,” he said.

In solving land disputes using non-judicial measures, Hun Sen said that finding honest solutions to these conflicts was paramount or else these problems will be protracted and remain unsolved.

Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara said at the inauguration ceremony that his ministry had issued 3.3 million land titles.

Sophara said the ministry will make an effort to achieve 100 per cent registration of land titles by 2023. By that time the ministry should be able to ensure that safe land is reserved for the government to hand over to people for farming, building homes, investing, creating more jobs and generally making an income, all of which contribute to social development.

He said the ministry has also established 60 permanent land measuring stations across the capital and 24 provinces in order to provide total coverage for the entire nation.

“The ministry used all mean available to solve a total of 10,634 land dispute cases previously and currently the ministry is working on another 3,148 cases. The National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution is attending to the land disputes in Koh Kong province and the work is going well and the disputes will be completely resolved soon,” he said.

Rights group Adhoc’s spokesman Soeng Sen Karuna supported the recommendation by Hun Sen about expediting land disputes and issuing new land titles for people.

Nevertheless, he noted that the relevant officials in charge of mediating these land conflicts and issuing the land titles needed to improve their performance in light of their slowness and carelessness in these matters that made these conflicts drag on and on.

“I can see that the intent of the prime minister is that he did not want to see land disputes just pile up and drag on forever. His suggestion should be carried out by the officials in charge immediately and to the greatest extent possible,” Karuna said.

He said that civil society organizations will keep an eye on whether the prime minister’s recommendations have been followed and whether long-running land disputes are effectively solved.

“This is not the first time that a government leader here has made such a recommendation. He said this a few times in the past already, but what is lacking is enforcement by lower-ranking officials who do not seem to have much respect for the prime minister’s words,” he said.