Frustration builds amid court delays as Dey Krahorm families seek relocation
THE lawyer for 13 families seeking relocation housing from the developer 7NG after being violently evicted from the Dey Krahorm community in January 2009 was summoned to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday, only to learn that a hearing in the case had been postponed because company representatives had failed to appear.
Meanwhile, hundreds of villagers who were evicted from the same central Phnom Penh community in 2007 – and who have been living in unsanitary conditions in Dangkor district ever since – said Monday that they plan next week to seek intervention from Prime Minister Hun Sen in their separate row with the company, which they say has left them homeless for nearly three years.
Te Channan, the lawyer, said he had intended to present evidence in support of his clients’ compensation requests, and that he was growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in the case.
“7NG’s lawyer repeatedly asked me to deliver evidence on May 24 related to the 13 families who have not received homes, and the company was supposed to provide their evidence to me in return. But they did not show up, so we did not get any result,” he said, and added that he did not know when a new court date would be set.
David Pred, executive director of the rights group Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, said the fact that the families still have not received relocation housing is unacceptable.
“It is a crime that 7NG has left these ... families homeless for the last 16 months after it grabbed their land and demolished their homes,” he said.
“The court should hold 7NG accountable for this crime to the fullest extent of the law and order the company to pay the families the fair market value of their property, as well as damages for their lost income and other troubles since the eviction,” he added.
Chheang Bona, 7NG’s general manager, could not be reached for comment.
Pred said there were at least 22 families evicted from Dey Krahorm in 2009 that still need to be provided with relocation housing or compensation.
Members of families that were evicted from the site before then, however, say they too have been left high and dry by the company.
Oeuk Bun, 65, who moved with her family and 57 others to Dangkor’s Damnak Trayeung village after being forced to leave Dey Krahorm in July 2007, on Monday bemoaned the fact that, as the group waits to receive new housing, she has had no option but live in a shabby temporary structure built by 7NG that lacks access to water or toilets – conditions that often lead to illnesses such as diarrhoea.
She added that employment opportunities are lacking at the new site.
“Before I moved here, I earned about US$60 per month as a maid, but here I can earn only $15 per month cleaning vegetables and washing dishes at other people’s homes,” she said.
“I want the government to notice us and help us … to give us comfortable housing,” she said.
Sun Ny, 60, also said that illnesses were common. “Most of us get sick from diarrheoa, stomach aches, rashes and fever because we live in an unclean environment with a big pile of rubbish nearby,” she said.
“We want to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen to tell him about us, but it would not be easy because the police would stop us like they have in the past,” she said.
Mao Sothea, a representative of the 58 families, said she plans to send a petition to Hun Sen’s cabinet next week, asking him to intervene.
“We will file a complaint to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet next week, and we will all go to the prime minister’s house in Phnom Penh the same day to ask for help,” she said.
Reached on Monday, Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun declined to comment about the plight of the families, saying he believed that their cases had been settled.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY WILL BAXTER