Kratie Is the Worst Province for Land Disputes, Says Rights Group

Sixteen out of 21 companies that have been granted land concessions in Kratie province’s Snuol district are involved in land disputes on a total of 80,000 hectares, the district governor said yesterday, while local rights group Adhoc called Kratie the worst province for land disputes.

Though district authorities have already provided 2,251 hectares of land for 867 families displaced by rubber plantations, nearly 2,000 families continue to illegally squat on concession land, said district gov­ernor Iv Saphum, who blamed villagers for the disputes.

“We are regularly preparing statistics on the villagers, and we are studying how many families have been affected by the rubber company,” he said.

Still, Ouch Leng, head of the Ad­hoc land program, said more than 30 rubber companies are operating in Snoul and illegally grabbing land.

“We have observed that Kratie is the province that suffers the most from land concessions, and authorities have no solution for villagers who lost their land,” he said. “We have asked government officials to revoke the licenses of companies that go beyond the government’s per­mission, because some rubber companies do not respect the rules.”

Mr Saphum declined to discuss Adhoc’s request.

Hor Chantha, a villager representative in Snuol commune, ex­pressed frustration yesterday over his community’s land dispute with the Hor­izon Company. He said so far the dispute had cost villagers 3 to 4 hectares of land, making them concerned that more will be taken. The dispute has become violent at times, he said.

Only last Thursday, he said, a company representative grabbed the gun of a security guard and fired it into the ground to scare protesters.

“This company is abusing people’s rights. They have never called us to discuss suitable compensation, and authorities have ignored it and not resolved the problem,” he said.

A foreman with the company denied that Horizon had ever grabbed any land.

“We do everything legally. We have­n’t grabbed villagers’ land, but some villagers have allegedly cleared the land inside the concession zone,” the foreman said, who declined to give his na­m­e­­­.


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