Hun Sen’s Student Volunteers to Resume Land-Titling Program

The government is set to start re-deploying student volunteers to measure and demarcate plots of land across the country as part of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s land-titling scheme, which was briefly suspended ahead of July’s national election.

The program was announced by the prime minister in June last year, and aimed to provide private land titles to poor families.

“The young volunteers of [Mr. Hun Sen] will measure 50,000 hectares as part of the second phase” of the project, a statement posted to the ruling CPP’s website on Saturday reads, adding that during the first phase, the volunteers measured 660,000 plots and issued 380,000 new titles. When the program was announced, its goal was to measure 700,000 plots of land covering a total of 1.8 million hectares.

The statement does not give a date for when the program would recommence, saying only that it would resume “after the rainy season.”

“We have not yet set a date, but we will begin sending [the volunteers] out soon,” Lor Davuth, director-general of the Ministry of Land Management’s cadastral department, said Wednesday.

“We are in the process of contacting the young volunteers to see when they will be available for the project,” Mr. Davuth added, declining to say how many students would be recruited.

To avoid being seen as electioneering prior to the official monthlong campaign period leading up to the July 28 poll, Mr. Hun Sen ordered the camouflage-clad volunteers back home by June 20, promising them that when his party won they would be put back to work.

Between the beginning of the program in 2012 and its temporary suspension, thousands of eager student volunteers were dispatched by the Ministry of Land Management to measure plots for more than half a million families living in all 24 provinces.

Latt Ky, head of Adhoc’s land and natural resource rights section, said Wednesday that he hopes that this time around, the program will do a better job of protecting the rights of the poor.

The program, he said, should not be used “to legitimate [land grabbed by] the rich and powerful people.”

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