Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pursat wildlife sanctuary families seek prime minister’s intervention



Pursat wildlife sanctuary families seek prime minister’s intervention

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The intervention of Prime Minister Hun Sen has been requested by 31 families living in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in Pursat province after they were ordered to dismantle their properties. Photo supplied

Pursat wildlife sanctuary families seek prime minister’s intervention

The intervention of Prime Minister Hun Sen has been requested by 31 families living in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary in Pursat province. Authorities said while they had settled in the area illegally, meetings were being held to resolve the issue.

“We, the 31 families, came to live and farm in Stung Thmey village, Pramuoy commune, in Veal Veng district, Pursat province in 2000 with recognition from the village and commune authorities.

“We have lived happily on the land, but on November 8 we received a letter from the Pursat Provincial Department of Environment notifying us of measures to clear the illegal settlement located in the protected community in Stung Thmey village in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary.

“This requires us, the 31 families, to remove our houses from this location to another place by the deadline of November 18,” said the letter sent to the prime minister dated November 16 and obtained by The Post on Tuesday.

Chun Chonh, a representative for the 31 families, said they had come to Pramuoy commune from different areas due to being poor and had sought permission from the authorities, who had agreed to allow them to live there temporarily.

He said they were appealing to the authorities and the government to allocate them land from the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary to live on legally.

“We cannot afford to find another place to settle. So please Prime Minister Hun Sen, kindly intervene by allocating land in the area for us to live on and farm.

Pramuoy commune chief Sek Sam Ath said the Pursat provincial Department of Environment had set a deadline of Monday for the 31 families to move off the land in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary.

As they had not done so, she said the provincial authorities were holding meetings to resolve the issue.

Some of the families, all of whom were poor and carried out farming to make a living, came to Pramuoy commune from different areas in 2016, while some arrived in 2018 or this year, she said.

“They have been arriving in the area since 2016. I could not send them away because they were poor and if I did so, they would not be able to buy land elsewhere to live. So we as the authorities reported the matter to our superiors, who also agreed to allow them to live there temporarily.

“We have had no reason to remove them. We are holding meetings to find a solution . . . whether to allow them to continue living there or find another place for them,” she said.

Sam Chankea, Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said on Tuesday that he supported talks on the issue to avoid a forced relocation as the families are poor farmers who had no land to live on or work.

“The government should consider providing another place for them if it thinks that their living there would affect the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary.

“If there is no land in another place, the government should allocate land in the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary, but place conditions on them by banning anything that would affect the forest or wildlife.

“If we can resolve the issue like this, we all benefit because we all are Cambodians,” Chankea said.

However, the notification letter says the provincial Department of Environment will take action after the deadline to remove the families without being responsible for any loss of property or damage.

If the families were to refuse or used violence, they would be punished in accordance with the law.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra declined to comment further on the case on Tuesday. But he said: “Let our technical officials do their job in accordance with the legal procedures.”

Pheaktra had previously said that illegal land grabbing by some villagers had been caused by land traders who had incited them to violate the law and destroy natural resources.

In 2012, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued Directive BB01 ordering an end to disputes involving state land – forest cover land, forest for conversion and land for social and economic concessions.

The directive aimed to legally recognise the land as de facto belonging to those who had occupied it before May 2012. A major operation, it was carried out by cadastral officials and more than 5,000 volunteer youth in 22 provinces including Pursat.

The officials and volunteers worked together to measure the land and issue land titles as per legal procedures.

More than one million hectares were distributed, with the operation ending before the 2013 national elections. It has been estimated that all land occupied before May 2012 has been distributed.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma