Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Siem Reap orders halt to state land grabs

Siem Reap orders halt to state land grabs

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Siem Reap provincial administration has ordered its relevant authorities to take legal measures against anyone illegally clearing and grabbing wet land, community land or natural protected areas. FACEBOOK

Siem Reap orders halt to state land grabs

The Siem Reap provincial administration has ordered its relevant authorities to take legal measures against anyone illegally clearing and grabbing wetland, community land or natural protected areas. It also urged them to immediately stop issuing ownership letters and documents for such land.

The announcement, obtained by The Post on Monday, said the provincial administration had observed that some individuals had encouraged local people to clear and burn down community forest, wetland and natural protected areas in the province so they could bring it under private ownership.

It said the excuse given was that there was a shortage of farmland and that they had only cleared land that was separate from the community forest.

To effectively manage those areas, the administration said, the relevant authorities must completely halt activities that encouraged people to clear land illegally, including dividing or sharing community forest, or wetland. Farming on such land was prohibited, the announcement said.

“Local authorities, especially village, commune, district and municipal chiefs and specialist departments, must immediately suspend all authorisations of state land acquisition, or [the provincial administration] will take legal action,” the announcement read.

Provincial Department of Agriculture director Tea Kimsoth said on Monday that there had been some cases of illegal land grabbing, but only on a small scale.

In Svay Leu district, for example, a group of villagers used tractors to clear wetland, but the authorities stopped it promptly, he said.

Kimsoth said so far this year, there have been about eight cases resulting in arrests for inciting villagers to clear wetland or community forests.

“The authorities educated or fined them in accordance with the law, and we will continue to push for more enforcement.

“In particular, we are raising awareness as widely as possible so people understand the difference between state land, the land we allocate to the poor and land that belongs to companies – because we don’t want to have problems with land disputes,” he said.

Chan Chamroeun, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said some wetland and community forest had been cleared by rich and powerful people when the authorities had been slow to intervene.

He said he supported the announcement and called on the authorities to crack down on any land grabs in a timely fashion, regardless of whether the perpetrators were well-connected or otherwise.

“If the relevant authorities follow the announcement, I hope land will be better protected and crackdowns on crimes more successful.

“But if they’re still afraid of the rich and powerful, the announcement will not be effective,” Chamroeun said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Tragedy as four lions devour teenager in Pakistan safari park

    In a horrifying incident at an animal park in the Pakistani city of Lahore, four lions killed a 17-year-old grass reaper. However, how Muhammad Bilal Hussain managed to get near the lions was yet to be ascertained. Safari officials said Hussain climbed a 3.7m high

  • Hun Sen asks Cambodians to believe in government

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday asked citizens and investors to trust that the government will overcome the challenges brought about by Covid-19 and the loss of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. Speaking to reporters at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh,

  • Gloom hits Siem Reap tourism

    As the Kingdom’s overall tourism sector continued to grow last year, industry insiders in Siem Reap have expressed their deep concerns, citing a sharp drop in Chinese arrivals to the province beginning late last month. Cambodia earned $4.91 billion in international tourism revenue last year,

  • Westerdam passenger ‘never had’ Covid-19

    The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the US citizen that allegedly tested positive in Malaysia after travelling on the Westerdam was never infected with Covid-19 in the first place. In an article published in the newspaper USA Today on Friday, CDC

  • ‘Ghost staff’ found, $1.7M returned to state coffers

    The Ministry of Civil Service said more than seven billion riel ($1.7 million) in salaries for civil servants was returned to the state last year after it discovered that the books had been cooked to pay ‘ghost officials’. This is despite claims by the Ministry of

  • Woman wanted for killing own son

    Police in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district are on the lookout for a woman who allegedly hacked her son to death on Sunday in Stung Meanchey III commune. District police chief Meng Vimeandara identified the son as Chan Sokhom, 32. “The offender can’t escape forever.