Battambang provincial governor Nguon Ratanak oversaw the distribution of land titles on Tuesday following a 20-year-long land dispute between villagers and soldiers.
Speaking during the distribution in Bavel district’s Prey Preal village on Tuesday, the governor said the disputed land was divided into 51 plots for the 48 families involved.
The dispute began in 1998, he said, with authorities at all levels and specialised officials striving to settle the disputes.
Last year, the villagers and soldiers made concessions to one another and their land titles were processed.
“Authorities at all levels have always collaborated and sought out ways to settle land disputes to alleviate our residents’ concerns and issues over land, and allow them to obtain land titles together,” Ratanak stressed.
Provincial deputy governor Soeum Bunrith, who is the head of the provincial land dispute resolution working group, declined to comment on Wednesday.
Yin Mengly, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, noted that land dispute cases in the province have declined since 2014-2015.
But some cases remain, Mengly said, citing three unresolved cases in Samlot district and others in Bavel district.
“I’ve observed that authorities merely seem to be waiting for orders from the top. Only when there are such orders do they do something about it.
“If there is no violence and residents remain silent, then the authorities will not look into finding a solution. This leaves disputes unsettled,” he said.
Land disputes have been an issue in the province since current governor Ratanak was the director of the provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said Mengly.
And they persist after his promotions to provincial deputy governor and then to governor, he said.
“I want provincial authorities to focus on solving land disputes for residents and not draw it out for too long. The more they delay, the more they have a hand in provoking residents’ suffering,” he stressed.