Boeung Kak activists fail to land meeting with rapporteur

Source: Phnom Penh Post |Mon, 17 October 2016, by

Boeung Kak lake activists protest outside the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Phnom Penh on Friday. Photo supplied

About 50 Boeung Kak lake activists attempted to meet UN envoy Rhona Smith on Friday seeking her intervention in the release of a fellow activist, as well as a quick resolution to their long-standing land dispute.

The activists, who wanted to meet the special rapporteur at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, were only able to meet another staffer at the UN office, according to Boeung Kak resident Bov Sophea. Continue reading “Boeung Kak activists fail to land meeting with rapporteur”

Boeung Kak activists fail to land meeting with rapporteur

Police Can’t Find Witnesses to Protest Beating

Source: The Cambodia Daily | Wed, 12 October 2016, by Ben Sokhean

A still image from a video showing a Daun Penh district security guard in the act of punching land rights activist Chan Puthisak on Monday. (Licadho)

Police said on Tuesday that an investigation into Monday’s beating of an NGO official and rights activists during a protest in Phnom Penh was hampered by a lack of witnesses to the clash between marchers and security guards.

The beating, which took place amid a crowd of hundreds and was captured on video and in photographs from several angles—many of them quickly posted online—came halfway through a land rights demonstration belatedly marking World Habitat Day. Continue reading “Police Can’t Find Witnesses to Protest Beating”

Police Can’t Find Witnesses to Protest Beating

Low skills driving worker migration from Cambodia: report

Source: Phnom Penh Post |Thu, 6 October 2016, by

A farmer stands among rice seedlings in his dried up Kampong Speu paddy during rainy season last year. A new report suggests that cross-border migration may increase as agricultural workers search for better opportunities abroad. Victoria Mørck Madsen

Young, rural workers in Cambodia – many reeling from the effects of flooding and drought – will need more access to skill-boosting vocational training if the country is to stem the tide of overseas migration, according to a new study.

Cross-border migration from Cambodia is expected to increase as many of the country’s agricultural workers grapple with debt, a lack of skills, and the economic hardships caused by extreme weather conditions, the USAID-sponsored report from Emerging Markets Consulting determined.

After surveying 919 potential migrants from Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kampong Cham, Koh Kong, Phnom Penh, Prey Veng, Kampong Thom, Oddar Meanchey, and Svay Rieng provinces, the authors found that young, unmarried men in severe financial trouble were the most likely to consider migration.

Of those surveyed, agricultural work was the most common profession, while 75 percent were mired in debt and pointed to abnormal weather conditions such as drought or flooding that negatively impacted their livelihoods.

But the report also found that a shortage of jobs isn’t what’s driving workers across borders. If anything, the country’s labour market is experiencing a shortage of potential employees. The problem lies in a significant disconnect between the skills of those searching for work and those sought after by employers, the study found.

“Out of the 120 businesses sampled in the study, nearly 40 percent faced regular shortages of both high and low-skilled labor. However, over one quarter of potential migrants surveyed were planning to or considering migrating abroad for employment,” the report reads. “A mismatch of skills in labor market demand and supply became evident when the business survey results were compared to the characteristics of potential migrants.”

Employers are largely seeking to hire people who are literate in both Khmer and English, and have a certificate to prove they possess the relevant skills for their sector. In contrast, most potential migrants have not completed primary school, the study noted.

In order to address this issue, the study recommends that basic literacy and numeracy courses be offered to young dropout students, and that programs are launched to place these potential migrants in training courses and employment.

“It is not a small task, but national officials should plan for this in the long-term,” agreed Dy Thehoya of the Center for the Alliance of Labour and Human Rights. “They need to develop training in the districts so that students who don’t want a formal education can choose something else.”

Meanwhile, the study also suggested that support be provided for agricultural workers struggling from the effects of climate change.

“More emphasis should be placed on the impact of environmental changes and the extensive stress this places on agricultural-based households,” the study reads. “Drought is shown to be a strong predictor of intention to migrate, and interventions should focus on the resultant livelihood challenges.”

Low skills driving worker migration from Cambodia: report

Boeung Kak activists found guilty

Source: Phnom Penh Post |Tue, 20 September 2016, by and

A supporter holds an image of Boeung Kak lake activist Tep Vanny during a protest at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Hong Menea

Four Boeung Kak lake activists were convicted and sentenced to six months in jail yesterday for their roles in a 2011 scuffle with security personnel outside City Hall, a ruling defence attorneys insisted was accompanied by a glaring lack of evidence.

The four – Tep Vanny, Bo Chhorvy, Heng Mom and Kong Chantha – were found guilty of insulting and obstructing public officials as the “ringleaders” of the nearly five-year-long protest. Chantha was found guilty in absentia. Continue reading “Boeung Kak activists found guilty”

Boeung Kak activists found guilty

Boeung Kak activists petition World Bank, EU

Source: Phnom Penh Post | Thu, 15 September 2016, by and

Boeung Kak lake activists hold placards outside the European Union Embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday during a protest calling for the release of Tep Vanny. Pha Lina

Close to 20 Boeung Kak lake activists petitioned the European Union and World Bank yesterday asking for their intervention on behalf of jailed fellow activist Tep Vanny and a swift resolution to their land dispute. Continue reading “Boeung Kak activists petition World Bank, EU”

Boeung Kak activists petition World Bank, EU

Call for Better Handling of Land Disputes

Source: Khmer Times | Wed, 13 September 2016, by Pech Sotheary

Beoung Kak villagers hold banners as they protest over their ongoing land dispute in front of the World Bank of ce in February. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

Civil society organizations yesterday repeated calls for land disputes to be resolved quickly, peacefully and without authorities using police and the courts to put pressure on communities.

Speaking at an event celebrating poor urban communities at the American Intercon School yesterday, more than 200 people, including representatives from affected communities around the capital, discussed the ongoing issue of forced evictions and what they can do to minimize potential violence and distress.

Sao Kosal, a technical program manager with local urban NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, stressed that many of the problems surrounding land disputes were due to authorities not understanding the law.

“Land issues have happened mostly when law enforcement acts incorrectly, especially as the land management law clearly states how citizens have the right to own and build their houses,” he told the audience.

“But the law is not effective as law enforcement is not constructively effective, and we have found that issues stemming from corruption have made land dispute resolution even more difficult.”

Am Sam Ath, a senior coordinator at rights group Licadho, noted that protesting is a natural response when officials do not fulfill their obligations to properly resolve disputes and instead use repression, violence and the judicial system to punish communities.

“Governmental development requires that they start dealing with people properly and fairly, in ways that can be acceptable to citizens.”

He singled out the banning of protests and marches by authorities as a clear sign of overreaching their power and hindering Cambodians’ rights to freedom of expression.

Efforts by the government are appreciated, said Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community coordinator Theng Savoeun, highlighting the more than 30 commissions set up to resolve land disputes, but he added that things were still moving too slowly and were too political.

According to Land Minister Chea Sophara last month, there are only about 800 active land disputes in the country, down from 7,000 at the start of the year.

Kheu Lai, a former resident of the Borei Keila community who was forcibly evicted, told the audience about the hardships her family had faced after losing their house, land and livelihood.

She called on the government to better liaise with affected communities before they take any action, in order to explain what was planned and why, and to discuss compensation and relocation options.

Land Management Ministry spokesman Cheam Sophal Makara stressed that the government and the ministry were working hard to resolve disputes in accordance with Cambodia’s laws.

“Their statements were made because they have not seen the actual actions or the new solutions.  I think that their statements show concern, and they won’t feel concern if they see the action of our working groups to resolve disputes,” he told Khmer Times.

“The Land Ministry welcomes information on all the land problems of citizens and we will solve all of the people’s issues.”

Call for Better Handling of Land Disputes

Borei Keila, Boeung Kak evictees march through capital

Source: Phnom Penh Post |Fri, 9 September 2016, by

About 50 land evictees marched unimpeded from the US Embassy to Phnom Penh City Hall yesterday despite recent crackdowns on political petitions and protests tied to opposition deputy leader Kem Sokha and the detention of human rights activists.

Twelve Borei Keila families, who claim they have not been compensated after the Phanimex company evicted them and built only eight of a promised 10 new apartment buildings to house former residents, demanded a meeting with Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong.

Village representative Pho Sophin said she was disappointed he did not meet with them, adding that families were still suffering from the losses of their homes four years ago.

“The City Hall governor does not care about the villagers,” she said. “If he cared about us, he would settle the problem for us … they don’t see us as human.”

The protesters were joined by former Boeung Kak residents, who claim that the housing and the $8,500 they accepted in compensation are inadequate. They are seeking a further $20,000 for each family.

City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada was not aware of the protest but said the municipality was working to resolve their disputes.

Borei Keila, Boeung Kak evictees march through capital