September 24, 2020

Ministry dismisses protestors, says they lack legal basis for land claims

The Ministry of Land Management yesterday said that the villagers who came to protest outside their offices in the capital over land disputes either had already had resolutions delivered or lacked any legal basis for complaint.
The statement came after over 800 villagers came in five different groups from  Koh Kong province, seeking intervention.

The first group consisted of 15 families who live in Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel district and are seeking invention over a land dispute with Heng Huy Agriculture Group Co Ltd.
However, the ministry said that they already found a solution for them on January 22, with only one villager – named Pav Nhoung – not accepting the deal.

The second group consisted of 197 families who live in Sre Ambel district’s Chi Khor Krom commune, who are also seeking intervention over a land dispute with the same company.

The ministry said that the 15 families had already withdrawn their complaint and could not resubmit and the other families did not have the correct land ownership documents to have any claim on the land in question.

The third group consisted of 743 families who live across six communes in Sre Ambel district, who are seeking intervention over land disputes with Koh Kong Plantation Co Ltd and Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co Ltd.

The ministry said the issue has already been resolved with the company and that villagers who are landless should apply to the ministry to ask for a social land concession.
The fourth group consisted of 19 families who the ministry also suggested apply for
the social land concession.

The fifth group consisted of 33 families seeking intervention over a land dispute with Union Development Group Co Ltd.

The ministry said that a resolution has been found for 13 families already and talks with the other 20 families are still ongoing.

“Overall, the demands of the groups have either been met or lack a legal basis for a resolution,” the ministry statement said.

Protestors initially gathered in front of the Ministry of Land Management in Chamkar Mon district and had planned to continue on foot to the house of Prime Minister Hun Sen near the Independence Monument, however, they were blocked by authorities.

Pav Nhoung, a villager from Kong Kong province, said that they went to gather in front of the ministry on World Peace Day in order to ask for help to resolve their land disputes, under the theme “No land rights, no peace.”

“We urge the Minister of Land Management to help solve our land disputes,” he said.

According to a joint statement by the protesting villagers, in order to mark the International Day of Peace under the theme “No Land Right, No Peace”, the   protestors jointly submited land petitions to the ministry addressing their land disputes.

They also pledged to work collectively within their networks and share the challenges of the negative impacts of land loss, human rights violations, climate change and the lack of food security in response to the common needs and concerns felt nationwide.

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