Inspection specialists from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction are probing a land dispute in Preah Sihanouk’s Bit Traing commune, in Prey Nop district, involving 19 families and CHSN Transportation Co Ltd.
The company is owned by Hun Chea, a nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The inspection follows a request filed by civil society organisation ACNCIPO director Chea Hean to the ministries of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction; and Justice on November 21, last year, calling for a closer look at the dispute.
Hean said on Thursday that the families had encroached on Chea’s land in the commune’s Chamnaot Ream village.
“The 19 families initially had land in Bit Traing’s Pou Thoeang village. But when they sold their lands, the administration relocated them to Chamnaot Ream village. Upon relocation, they grabbed Chea’s land too,” Hean said.
He said Chea prompted him to file a request to the ministries to urge land inspection on the disputed area.
“Chea does not want to have problems with the families. He wants justice for the victims. After I submitted the letter, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction forwarded it to an inspection department, and instructed officials to check the site,” said Hean.
He said the families originally owned 60ha but after encroaching on more than 30ha of Chea’s land, they were now sitting on more than 90ha in total.
Seng Lot, the director-general of the General Department of Administration at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said on Thursday that the ministry had tasked a working group to conduct an onsite investigation.
“Whatever is going on, it must go through the proper inspection of documents and abide by the law. We hope to uncover the truth regarding the dispute,” said Lot.
District governor Sar Kakada could not be reached for comment by press time, while Chea and district administration deputy director Prum Bunny declined to comment.