Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara on Monday demanded local authorities be more vigilant of the illegal buying and selling of land titles in an effort to protect people from land grabbing.
“We have to save people living with real land titles from all kinds of land abuse,” Chea Sophara said.
The governor specifically targeted an area of Russei Keo district where he said more than 700 plots of land are in dispute.
“Sometimes [the landowner] is not right because the land’s [title] is not available,” he said. “Those who draw land titles with anarchy must give that land back.”
Chea Sophara said approximately 70 percent of people have legal land titles, while 30 percent of land titles have been illegally bought or sold. He insisted that no one can initiate land seizures unless the government issues a project to develop or construct a road in a specific area.
The municipality will order both sides of land disputes to claim their land titles, he said. “We will compare and observe which land must be given back to people,” Chea Sophara said. “If a person’s land title is legal, no one can force people to leave or to sell the plot of land to another one.” The governor also told high officials—some of whom are blamed for land grabbing—that they are not exempt from land laws.