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

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • 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

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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