About 100 villagers from Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community plan to protest at Phnom Penh Municipal Court today in support of community representative Phok Lina, who faces questioning over the illegal sale of a home he was granted as part of a relocation deal to make way for a Phanimex construction project.
The protest comes two days after authorities stormed the home of On Nita—to whom Mr. Lina sold his apartment in August 2010, without a land title, to pay off a debt—and placed a padlock on Mr. Nita’s door in an effort to confiscate his house.
“I asked why they locked my house, and they said that the district officer ordered them to confiscate it because I bought it from Lina,” Mr. Nita said yesterday, adding that Prampi Makara district officials on Dec 14 confiscated the receipt of the sale from his sister.
According to Sor Sorn, another Borei Keila representative, out of the 1,000 villagers granted apartments at relocation sites after evictions from Borei Keila began in 2003, 400 have already sold their homes. Three hundred other villagers complain they were left out of the deal altogether.
Prampi Makara district governor Som Sovan confirmed yesterday that authorities tried to confiscate Mr. Nita’s home because it was bought illegally. Mr. Sovan said a clause in the contract between city authorities and villagers prohibits the sale or rental of homes without a land title. Titles are granted to evictees after five years of living on site.
“Some of them sell immediately after receiving ownership and then continue to demand the state provide them housing elsewhere,” Mr. Sovan said.
Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said yesterday that when people relocated in land disputes are made to wait five years before receiving a land title, many don’t get one at all.
“The government doesn’t want to give people land titles because then they won’t be able to evict people so easily,” he said.