Courts Ordered To Confiscate Grabbed Land

Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive on Wednesday de­nouncing forest encroachment and ordering courts across the nation to confiscate state land illegally grabbed by private interests.

The directive orders courts to is­sue warrants to begin the confis­ca­tion.

The warrants, which must be issued before the end of May, will include a time limit of 30 days for in­volved parties to contest the con­fiscation.

If the orders are contested, provincial and municipal governors will forward cases to the newly formed National Au­thority for the Resolution of Land Dis­putes.

The directive also states that RCAF, military police, police and other relevant authorities must co­­­operate to resolve the land disputes and protect state forests from encroachment.

Forestry Administration Di­rector Ty Sokun said Thursday that almost 300,000 hectares of land across Cambodia are in private hands but rightly belong to the state.

“I believe this measure will be successful because it is the government’s order,” Ty Sokun said, adding that the government is al­ready in the process of confiscating 20,000 hectares from en­croach­ers on Siem Reap prov­ince land.

Banteay Meanchey provincial Governor On Sum said that he had already invited all companies and other large private landowners to meet with authorities so that they can re­port on the size of their land.

“They can continue farming on their cleared land, but ongoing encroachment and the clearing of trees in the state’s forests must cease,” said.

Acting Banteay Meanchey Cabinet Chief Chuong Prasoeuth said that 18 landowners had already been ordered to return more than 4,000 hectares of land illegally purchased from villagers and RCAF officers.

“We told them that forestry officials will confiscate it all for state property, and they have to pay $1,000 per hectare for land they cleared,” Cabinet Chief Chuong Prasoeuth said.


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