Land Management Ministry officials met with a consortium of NGOs at their main office in Phnom Penh on Monday to discuss 11 of the country’s largest land disputes, despite decisions on resolving such matters normally being made at a sub-national level, a land rights advocate said on Monday.
Sia Phearum, executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force and a representative of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, who attended the meeting, said a document detailing 11 land disputes in Phnom Penh as well as Preah Vihear, Battambang, Mondolkiri and Pursat provinces was a topic of discussion.
Due to time constraints, only nine of the cases were looked at, Mr. Phearum said.
“We raised the land issues where it’s big and many families have still not found a solution,” he said.
Mr. Phearum said the NGO Forum had requested that the meeting take place every three months, despite decisions on issuing land titles or resolving disputes typically being made by provincial governments.
The meetings would be more about sharing information, he said, and focus on more pressing disputes where large numbers of people were set to be affected.
“They told us that they want to solve cases that have many families,” Mr. Phearum said, adding that disputes involving a smaller amount of families would have to wait until a later date.
Officials from the Land Management Ministry on Monday could not be reached for comment.
The meeting took place as a group of about 20 evictees submitted a petition to the Royal Palace, a move made due to government authorities ignoring their plight, they said.
Some of the evictees originally lived around what was the Boeng Kak lake, while others hailed from the Borei Keila neighborhood, two locations in Phnom Penh where locals have been forcibly evicted over the last 10 years to make way for real-estate projects.
“We came to the Royal Palace today because the Land Management Ministry and City Hall refused to accept our petition or solve the demand of families,” said Sia Nareth, one of the evicted Boeng Kak lake residents.
“I believe King Sihamoni will help our grandchildren as there is no other state institution that will help us,” she added.