Source: The Cambodia Daily | March 24, 2016 by
Former residents of Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community on Wednesday handed petitions to the U.N.’s human rights envoy to Cambodia, requesting that she intervene in their feud with authorities after they were snubbed by City Hall earlier in the day.
Before they were forcibly evicted in 2012, residents of the neighborhood in Prampi Makara district were promised monetary compensation or an apartment in one of 10 buildings that were to be constructed by the Phanimex company, which leased the land from the government. But only eight apartment blocks were built, leaving more than 300 families in limbo.
Although most of the families have now accepted compensation or replacement housing offered by local officials, about 30 have been offered nothing, said Som Setha, a community representative.
On Wednesday morning, about 20 residents attempted to hand petitions to City Hall—half of them calling for compensation for the families left out of the deal, the rest requesting housing in one of the eight buildings after rejecting an offer of land about 45 km from the city center.
“Our families were promised by the district officials and the company that if we did not protest in public, we would be compensated with either a house or money because we have enough documentation,” Ms. Setha said.
“We believe authorities will help us because they told us that if we led protests, everyone would face a fight with authorities, or arrest, so we decided to wait,” she added.
When no one came to accept their petitions for about an hour, the group went to the Phnom Penh office of the U.N.’s human rights agency, where they were met outside by Rhona Smith, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, who is on her second fact-finding mission to the country.
“I thank you for bringing it to my attention, and I can assure you that I will also take this documentation and consult with my colleagues and Professor Subedi to get greater information and follow closely what is happening in this case,” Ms. Smith told the group, referring to her predecessor, Surya Subedi.
Keang Leak, deputy governor of Prampi Makara district, said the residents would be given compensation if they could provide documentation proving they were long-term residents of the area.
“Everyone from Borei Keila needs to show their documents if they really want compensation,” he said.
Municipal officials could not be reached.