Commission Calls for Review of Land Concessions in Koh Kong

Three parliamentarians from the National Assembly’s human rights commission, led by CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang, returned Tuesday from a two-day visit to four communities in Koh Kong province locked in land disputes with companies holding private land concessions.

Mr. Chhay Eang, who was accompanied by CPP lawmakers Loy Sophat and Lork Kheng, said the purpose of the visit was to talk to families affected by the disputes in Sre Ambel, Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts.

Following the trip, the lawmakers said they would call on the government to review the concessions awarded to the companies involved: Heng Huy Agricultural Group, Union Development Group and two companies linked to CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat: Koh Kong SEZ and Koh Kong Sugar.

“We have seen that these companies did not follow the government’s policy and have been involved in forced evictions and burning down villagers houses and so we will ask the government to review [their concessions],” Mr. Chhay Eang said.

He added that the commission would summon provincial governor Bun Leut and other involved authorities for questioning at the National Assembly.

Mr. Sophat of the CPP also said there was clear evidence that some of the companies in Koh Kong “have not respected government policy.”

“We have seen the situation here with our own eyes and heard the villagers’ concerns and have more understanding about the issues here,” Mr. Sophat said. “[W]e will continue to investigate each case.”

In Kongchet, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said the delegation met with 521 families across the three districts. But he said he was skeptical that the commission’s report would have any impact on the villagers’ situation.

“The government has always acted on its own prerogative to sign away land concessions without hearing any complaints,” he said.

“So I don’t have much hope that this visit will solve the dispute, as the government is the decision maker who signed the contracts.”

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