After Protest, Government Speeds Up Land Titles for Kratie Families

Government officials have agreed to speed up the delivery of land titles promised to some 1,500 families in Kratie province after about 200 of them, angered by the monthslong delay, protested outside their local commune office Monday.

The protesters said they had their land measured in May by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s student volunteers, who have been measuring land across the country since mid-2012, as part of the premier’s mass land-titling project.

“We staged the protest because we want authorities to issue titles to us because other villagers from neighboring communes whose farms and residential land were measured after ours have already received titles,” said Suon Vichhka, a representative for the families.

From Snuol district, Snuol commune chief Vann Doeun said district and provincial officials attended the meeting after he called them once the protesters surrounded his office and threatened to stop anyone from entering or leaving.

He said the families had been living on the land since 2000 and were disputing ownership of more than half of a 10,000-hectare economic land concession granted to the Korean-owned Horizon Agriculture Development in 2008.

“We…staged the protest to seek justice because we have owned the land before the arrival of the concession company,” said Din Saroeun, another of the protesters.

Provincial deputy governor Khann Chamnan, who attended the meeting, blamed the delay the families were experiencing on a dearth of government staff.

During the meeting, he said, it was promised to deliver the families their titles within the next three months, but that timeframe was moved forward after contacting Land Management Minister Im Chhun Lim.

“After informing him about the negotiations, he recommended that the issuance of titles for the villagers should be done in the next 20 to 30 days, at the latest,” Mr. Chamnan said.

The government handed out some 380,000 titles as part of the prime minister’s project before work was suspended ahead of July’s national election. Work on the project resumed about a month ago.

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