Gov’t Hears List Of Complaints From Donors

Foreign donor representatives Monday listed off for Cambodian officials a long series of areas in which they said the government had not implemented adequate reforms.

While noting some progress, ambassadors from France, the US, Germany, Australia and Canada told the ninth quarterly meeting of the Government-Donor Coordin­ation Committee that attempts at reform are not up to scratch.

French Ambassador Yvon Roe D’Albert said progress in judicial and legal reform had been “minimal,” adding that texts fundamental to the judicial system, such as the draft penal code, have yet to be completed and need urgent attention.

While controversial economic land concessions continue to be granted to private interests, the government discloses scant information about them and sometimes disregards relevant policies and laws, German Ambassador Pius Fischer said during the three-hour meeting at the Council for the Development of Cambodia.

Canadian Ambassador Donica Pottie said progress in reforming land regulation “has been less than encouraging,” adding that the slow pace of titling indigenous peoples’ lands means their lands risk disappearing into private hands altogether.

However, she noted that more than 280,000 land titles were distributed in 2006 and said cadastral commissions, which can be used to resolve land disputes, are now operational across the country.

US Ambassador Joseph Musso­meli said it was “past time” for the long-awaited anti-corruption law to be completed.

“There have been other laws—some would say of much lesser importance—which have been prepared and enacted into law with considerable speed in 2006. This law, which stands to benefit all Cambodians, has by contrast experienced delay after delay,” he told the meeting.

“We ask you: when will this law be enacted?”

Finance Minister Keat Chhon, who chaired the meeting, responded that in the US corruption is also a problem.

Cabinet Minister Sok An will address donors on efforts made to draft the long-awaited anti-corruption law in a meeting “as soon as possible,” Council of Ministers Secretary of State Prak Sokhon said later by telephone.

Land Management Minister Im Chhun Lim told the meeting that his ministry has been achieving concrete results.

One obstacle to the speedy registration of indigenous communal lands, he said, was that the government was attempting to write statutes for each community where land is to be registered.

Defending the practice of land concessions, Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said concessions in wooded areas were restricted to places with sparse tree cover and low-value timber.


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