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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid