The Ministry of Land Management on Friday dismissed new figures from rights group Licadho indicating a dramatic surge in the number of families embroiled in land conflicts last year, claiming that disputes were in fact on the wane.
In a report last week, Licadho said that its staff in the 13 mainly central and western provinces it monitors counted 10,625 families newly embroiled in new or existing land disputes in 2014, a three-fold increase over the year before.
On Friday, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan accused the NGO of deliberately inflating its figures to attract funding. He countered Licadho’s report by comparing its number of new families in a dispute in 2014 with the 1,766 “complaints” the government’s National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution handled over the first eight months of the same year.
However, multiple families are usually involved in a single complaint or land dispute case, a distinction Mr. Siphan failed to make.
In a statement Friday, the Land Management Ministry’s cadastral committee also rejected Licadho’s report, similarly failing to distinguish between families and cases.
“The cadastral committee has solved land disputes consecutively since 2002 and made the number of land disputes decrease from year to year, very contrary to the announcement from Licadho,” the statement says.
The committee goes on to state that it handled 6,556 “cases” since 2002 and had settled all but 750 of them by the end of last year, compared to the 990 cases it was facing at the end of 2013.
Contacted Sunday, cadastral committee president Vuthy Vannara declined to provide any details on how the cases were settled or how many families were involved in the 750 remaining cases.
Mr. Vannara said his committee had asked Licadho for a copy of its latest data in order to study it more closely.
“I have already asked Licadho to provide more detailed figures on land disputes so we can compare them with the numbers that the ministry has to find out whether this organization’s numbers in the report are right or wrong,” he said.
Licadho said Sunday that it would supply the ministry with the requested data this week.