Fifteen people from Siem Reap yesterday delivered a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet claiming they were left out of a recent land-titling drive in their village, though local authorities said the group had only settled in the area once the titling began.
Chea Sam El, a 35-year-old representative of the 15 who delivered the petition in Phnom Penh on behalf of 20 families in Siem Reap town’s Slakram commune, said authorities failed to demarcate their collective 2 hectares of land even after they had lived there for years.
“In the past, I filed complaints with the Land Management Ministry and the Council of Ministers but at this time, I am seeking further intervention from the prime minister since the past [complaints] seemed not to be effective,” Sam El said after delivering the petition.
However, Slakram Commune Chief Khiev Sot said the 20 families had not been given land titles because local authorities did not recognise them or believe that they were in fact long-term residents. He said he believed someone had sent them to claim the land.
“I have not discriminated against a single villager, but [this was] because I did not know where some of them came from, and they did not have documents to prove it either,” Sot said. “They had a representative who persuaded them to come and live here.”
So Narin, a coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said he was unaware of the dispute.