Land Titling to Start on Chroy Changvar

Source: Phnom Penh Post | Tue, 17 May 2016, by Pech Sotheary

people_protest_against_compesation_offered_by_ocic_during_land_dispute_on_chroy_changvar_24_01_2016_pha_lina

Villagers protest against the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation earlier this year in Chroy Changvar district, where they called for the government to intervene in an ongoing land dispute. PPha Lina

Land rights groups have cautiously welcomed an announcement that, beginning tomorrow, plots would start to be measured and land titles assigned to those who will be affected by the controversial Chroy Changvar Satellite City.

But residents of the three communes affected by the $1.6 million Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) development yesterday said they had received no official notice of the municipal government’s plans, and did not have time to prepare.

Klang Huot, district governor of Chroy Changvar, announced late last week that district authorities and officials from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction would visit Chroy Changvar, Prek Leap and Prek Tasek communes, where six communities are affected by the OCIC development and a government-constructed road.

According to the announcement, residents are required to prepare their identity and land documents, and plant a wooden post to mark their land boundary in advance.

“For the people who have not followed the recommendation, the district authorities will not take any responsibility for the loss of your interests,” the announcement said.

Huot declined to comment further on the statement, which failed to specify how much land or compensation victims would receive.

Prek Tasek commune representative Pol Amrithkitsya said the fact the group had not been informed about the upcoming land measurement reeked of discrimination against long-time protesters and their constant demand for land titles.

“Since the authority announced the satellite town project, the authorities have cleared the land to build infrastructure without informing the people who own the land,” he said, adding that residents would present their documents and requests for land titles next week.

Chroy Changvar commune representative Mao Vantich said he had not received notice but argued the authorities should divide the land according to the “tiger skin method” – accommodating enough space for residents who have lived on the land since 1979.

Housing Rights Task Force director Sia Phearum welcomed the action taken by the authorities, with the caveat that land titles were offered fairly to all the people in those communes – whether they are directly or indirectly affected.

“It should not be based on favouritism; the state should offer justice to victims equally,” he said.

Roughly 224 affected families have repeatedly submitted petitions and appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in the dispute, which has been ongoing since 2011.

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