Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Some 10,000 land rows settled

Some 10,000 land rows settled

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Villagers locked in Preah Vihear land disputes petition for a solution at PM Hun Sen’s residence in Phnom Penh on January 31. Heng Chivoan

Some 10,000 land rows settled

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has confirmed that since land registration officially started, the ministry has issued more than 5.2 million titles while 9,871 cases of land disputes have been resolved, with around 2,000 cases pending.

In a press release dated June 5, the ministry said out of a total of seven million land plots, 5,224,248 plots, or 74.63 per cent, have been given land titles.

Of the seven million plots, 4,607,842 were registered and given titles via the ministry’s official system and 614,406 were registered separately.

The ministry said state land has 1,777 registered titles, private land 613,945, and ethnic community land 22,682.

The press release said of the 11,994 cases of land disputes mediated by relevant national authorities, the cadastral committee and the ministry, 9,871 cases were resolved, with 2,123 cases pending.

The ministry said in four provinces including Koh Kong, Kampong Speu, Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey, most land disputes involved sugarcane plantations and villagers and was over social land concessions.

In Koh Kong province, land disputes involving 986 families were resolved. In neighbouring Kampong Speu province, the ministry’s working group received 3,349 complaints and has so far resolved land disputes for 203 families.

Of the 287 cases of land disputes in Preah Vihear province, 57 have been solved and 230 rejected. In Oddar Meanchey province, a total of 412 land dispute cases were solved.

The Post could not reach ministry spokesman Seng Lot for further comment on Thursday.

Pen Bunna, a senior official of rights group Adhoc, said it remains unclear whether the resolution of land disputes by the government over the past years has been effective and thorough.

He said in Koh Kong and some other provinces where the land management ministry claimed to have completely resolved land disputes for villagers, protests still continued.

“We have observed that there are still protests after resolutions had been reached. We’ll wait and see whether there will be more protests after the ministry announced that land disputes had been resolved."

“But based on information we have received, the land disputes have not been completely resolved,” he said.

Bunna also cited irregularity in the land registration process concerning state properties such as forest, coastal and mountain land. He said some state land has been ceded to new owners without the proper privatisation procedure.

He cited a case in Kampot province where boundary markers were installed in the sea, prompting authorities to launch an investigation following widespread criticism.

The provincial authority then claimed that the owner of the land with markers installed in the sea rightfully owned the plot.

“There’s another example in Koh Kong province. I met with a deputy provincial governor who told me that a number of villas have been built on around 2,000ha of state land, with each owner possessing land titles."

“[Lower-level officials] may have hidden the facts in their reports to the higher authorities so they can issue land titles to individuals when it’s actually state-owned land,” he said.

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