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State land in protected area not for sale: official

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Environment ministry secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra speaks in a workshop over environment law and natural resources Kep province on March 15. ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY

State land in protected area not for sale: official

A senior Ministry of Environment official urged commune and district administrations to stop signing certificates of transfer of rights, land use applications, or sale or purchase letters for state land within natural protected areas and biodiversity corridors under their jurisdiction.

The call came as ministry secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra presided over a workshop held to disseminate environmental laws to enforcement officials and local authorities in Kep province on March 15.

The two-day workshop was run by a team of ministry lawyers and attended by 160 people including court officials, members of the armed forces, rangers, law enforcement officials and relevant authorities from Kep and neighbouring Kampot.

“I ask that all commune and district administrations stop issuing paperwork for protected land or land within the designated biodiversity corridors,” said Pheaktra.

He said no one has the right to buy or sell land in these areas. The ministry warned people against being cheated by middlemen or brokers because no paperwork or land titles would be recognised and could even result in legal action.

Some ill-intentioned people tricked people into encroaching on the land by selling it at a bargain price and then used them as a kind of shield to protest to the authorities, in the hope of the government taking pity on them and allocating them land, he noted.

“Many irregularities have been found and legal action is being pursued in these cases,” he added.

He called for the participation of all workshop attendees, saying it was necessary if the government’s strategic plans and goals of protecting the land were to be achieved.

Kep provincial governor Som Piseth and Kampot provincial deputy governor Ney Kong – who attended the workshop – said it was very important to raise awareness of the legal aspects and standards relating to the environment and natural resource management.

“All attendees should pay close attention to these presentations in order to accumulate the knowledge required to effectively contribute to environmental management and the prevention of forest and natural resource crimes,” said Piseth.

Pheaktra expected that the workshop would provide the attendees with additional information of the laws, so that they are more prepared to enforce these important pieces of legislation.

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