The Council of Ministers yesterday rebuffed continuing criticism of evictions and relocations of poor urban communities, according to a statement from the council’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit.
Without specifically naming the sources of the criticism, the statement addressed common complaints about Cambodia’s record in dealing with urban land disputes, including forced evictions, relocations and compensation.
“In general, our philosophy of development is to reach whichever decision benefits a majority of the people and helps the weak and small minority of the people in society,” the statement read.
It dismissed allegations that evictions and relocations are not carried out according to international standards.
“In fact, there is no international standard in this world concerning the dissolution and dismantling of temporary settlements. Each country differs from the others depending on its GDP, culture, history, tradition, living condition, livelihood, land use and housing,” the statement read.
It also defended the practice of offering compensation to evicted communities at rates far below market value. “Generally, there is no country in the world upholding the state of law that deals with temporary and illegal constructions by paying at free market cost, because this would contrast with the legal procedure.”
The last year has seen several evictions of poor urban communities to make way for development projects. All have drawn criticism from local and rights groups, and have also prompted a number of donor countries, the UN and the World Bank, among others, to call for a total moratorium on forced evictions in Cambodia.
In a joint statement issued at a meeting with the government last week, international donors said that some of Cambodia’s biggest challenges relate to, “addressing land disputes in areas where state or large private entities claim land that is occupied by the poor. In many cases, this has involved expropriations, evictions and resettlements of the poor.”