Coastal Villagers Call for Dispute Resolutions

Source: Phnom Penh Post | Tue, 22 March 2016, by Lay Samean

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People attend a panel on coastal land disputes in Phnom Penh yesterday. P Heng Chivoan

A coalition of villagers in long-running land disputes with development companies along Cambodia’s coastline held a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday calling for authorities to resolve their cases.

Some 20 village representatives from Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk, Kampot and Kep provinces said yesterday they had been involved in more than 40 land disputes unresolved for up to nearly a decade.

In many instances, they said, companies had been granted economic land concessions without a proper assessment of the impact on locals.

Sem Kemsan, from Koh Kong’s Kiri Sakor district, said villagers in his area had been locked in a dispute with Union Development Group since 2008.

“We filed the complaints for four years already to the village, commune, district and provincial authorities, but the authorities replied that they did not have the capacity to solve the problem,” he said, adding that he was directed to the Ministry of Environment and was still waiting for a response.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Sao Sopheap yesterday conceded that ELCs had caused land-titling problems, but said his ministry needed more time to resolve the disputes.

“The company receiving the economic land concession has to solve issues based on a voluntary policy in which the people agree to take the compensation, but if there is no agreement, the leopard skin method has to be applied,” he said.

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