News / Asia

Cambodian Land Deals Raise Human Rights Concerns

Cambodian protesters from Boueng Kak lake march with a banner displaying the thumb prints of fellow land owners who have been evicted from their homes, as they demand compensation, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Cambodian protesters from Boueng Kak lake march with a banner displaying the thumb prints of fellow land owners who have been evicted from their homes, as they demand compensation, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Irwin Loy

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A United Nations-appointed rights watchdog is calling on Cambodia to bridge the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Surya Subedi, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, says the government must do more to ensure that marginalized groups are not suffering from the government’s practice of granting land concessions to developers.
 

Unfair practices

During a recent visit that focused on how land grants are issued to private developers, Subedi looked into allegations of rights groups who say the practice is unfair to tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes with little or no compensation.
 

Surya Subedi (L), UN special rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Cambodia looks towards Cambodian residents during his visit to Borei Keila community in Phnom Penh.Surya Subedi (L), UN special rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Cambodia looks towards Cambodian residents during his visit to Borei Keila community in Phnom Penh.
x
Surya Subedi (L), UN special rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Cambodia looks towards Cambodian residents during his visit to Borei Keila community in Phnom Penh.
Surya Subedi (L), UN special rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Cambodia looks towards Cambodian residents during his visit to Borei Keila community in Phnom Penh.
“So there seems to be a lack of transparency, due process and the communities affected have not been offered any alternatives," Subedi explained. "They have been told that so and so company will come and start bulldozing the land with a view to clearing the way for agribusiness activities or some other activities on the land. But these people who have been farming that land for generations--what are they going to do, what is their livelihoods going to be?”


Activists say the problem is exemplified in the plight of a Phnom Penh community called Borei Keila.

In 2004, the government designated the area as a social land concession to a local company. The deal was contingent on the developer building on-site housing for more than 1,700 families living in the area at the time. But the company reneged on the deal, and by the start of 2012, rights groups say almost one-quarter of the families were homeless.

Subedi, who visited the community this week, says he was shocked by what he saw.

“Indeed quite appalling conditions they have been living in. Some of them seem to have been living on top of a dump site," he said. "Basically a rubbish heap. I visited them, it was just the condition -- unacceptable. I thought it was not only a human rights matter, but also a humanitarian matter.”

Economic and land concessions

Subedi says economic and other land concessions can be a positive tool for growth in what is still one of the least developed countries in the region. But he says the government must ensure there is a public debate on how such policies are enacted.

“My concern is more to do with the procedure, rather than the need -- whether the country should grant economic land concessions or not. If it is a well thought-out policy, if the legal framework is a sound one, then the country can benefit from economic land concessions," Subedi said. "When I say the country, even the rural poor, the indigenous communities will benefit. People can benefit. We can create a win-win situation.”

This week, the government announced it would temporarily stop issuing new land concessions, though it has done little to publicly explain how the process will be improved. Subedi sees the moratorium as a positive step; the government must now show that it is serious about reforms, he says. "But it remains to be seen whether the law will be implemented appropriately. In Cambodia there are quite good laws in a number of areas, but the implementation has been a problem," he added. "I hope this particular regulation will be implemented thoroughly and properly."

Subedi says he will meet with government officials to express his concerns. His trip concludes on Friday.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid