Increase in land dispute resolutions

Source : Khmer Times 

A land title is given to a Kratie villager. Supplied

The Land Management Ministry yesterday announced it solved 364 out of 990 land dispute cases reported throughout the country this year, an increase when compared to last year’s 208 solved cases.

A report issued yesterday noted that the ministry’s cadastral survey commission solved 263 of the cases, while the ministry’s working group solved 101.

The cadastral survey commission had worked on a total of 513 land dispute cases, and the 263 solved cases amounted to 228.94 hectares of land being distributed to 1,447 families. The working group handled 477 disputes.

The report also noted that last year, the commission solved 85 land dispute cases, while the group solved 123, a total of 208 solved cases for 2017.

Lor Davuth, director-general of the ministry’s general land management department, yesterday said the ministry has issued more than five million land titles, noting that it is aiming to distribute seven million land titles by 2021.

Mr Davuth said the increase of solved cases can be attributed to attentive ministers and good collaboration with feuding parties.

“The process of solving disputes requires time and resources and in order for land to be dispersed, we need to collect information,” Mr Davuth said. “In some cases, all sides want to win. We are receiving cases faster than we can solve them.”

The report also highlighted the ministry’s efforts in solving disputes involving investment companies in the provinces of Koh Kong, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey and Kampong Speu.

“In Koh Kong, the ministry has solved the disputes of 960 families and distributed 825 hectares of land,” the report said. “In Preah Vihear, the ministry has solved 57 cases; in Oddar Meanchey, 412 families have been given 824 hectares; while in Kampong Speu, the ministry has solved nine cases and mediated 195 more.”

Soeung Sen Karuna, senior investigator with rights group Adhoc, yesterday said the number of cases received by the group has decreased this year when compared to last year.

Koh Kong villagers thumbprint a resolution agreement in Phnom Penh. KT/Mai Vireak

However, Mr Sen Karuna noted there are cases that are taking years to resolve.

“Some cases take a long time, villagers lose time and money. They were poor, and now they are even poorer due to land disputes,” he said. “If villagers have a dispute with an influential person or a company, then the villagers will be pressured by security forces and bodyguards.”

“As for the court, if villagers filed a court complaint, then the process would be slower than if the complaint was filed by an influential person or a company,” Mr Sen Karuna added.

Yus Sophorn, a villager in a dispute with the Water Resources Ministry over the building of a dam in Svay Rieng district, yesterday said villagers had to forgo their rice fields so the ministry can build the dam.

“Our community has had a land dispute since 2009 – no compensation was provided,” Ms Sophorn said. “Local authorities told us to wait and wait, but until now, we have not yet received compensation for our rice fields.”

In October, representatives of nearly 50 communities across nine provinces and the capital expressed disappointment over the government’s handling of land disputes.

They held a meeting with other community representatives to appeal to the government to resolve their respective land disputes.

Community representatives who spoke noted that some communities have been locked in disputes for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, in a sub-decree signed on December 13 by Prime Minister Hun Sen, Land Management Minister Chea Sophara became chairman of the National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution in order to reorganise the country’s land resolution body.

 

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