Assembly to Establish Land-Dispute Panel

The National Assembly has set up a three-party commission to investigate land disputes across the country, especially those involving military and powerful people, Assembly President Prince Ranariddh announced last week.

The four-member commission will consist of representatives from the CPP, Funcinpec, the Sam Rainsy Party and the general secretary of the Assembly, he said Thursday.

“In a number of disputes, local authorities have difficulties to settle them, because there are powerful and military people behind the cases,” the prince said. “If we have the committee with all parties, it could help solve the cases as quickly and fairly as possible.”

Disputes would be referred to the committee, which would cooperate with local authorities to make a final recommendation.

A recent six-month study by Oxfam concluded that the number of land disputes is on the rise. The study reported that confusion over ownership rights was compounded by the use of violence, intimidation, and fraud.

A CPP parliamentarian said he welcomed the three-party idea. “It is very good that one committee has representatives from all the parties,” said lawmaker Math Ly, also a member of the CPP’s 20-member standing committee. “We will no longer have the problem that each party makes accusations about this or that.”

Thun Saray, chairman of the human rights group Adhoc, said he is skeptical because the government has already formed one national land-dispute committee, in addition to another one set up temporarily by the Parliament. He said that neither one accomplished anything.

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