NGOs Back Hun Sen in His ‘War on Land Grabbers’

A host of NGOs expressed strong support for Prime Min­ister Hun Sen’s so-called “war” on land grabbers Wednes­day, saying they plan to provide him with information on Cambodia’s worst land grabbing cases so that he can take action.

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 23 rights organizations, as well as NGO Forum, the Com­munity Legal Education Center and Legal Aid of Cambodia declared their support for Hun Sen’s campaign during a press conference at the headquarters of local rights group Adhoc.

“We NGOs support Samdech Hun Sen to solve the land issues. NGOs are glad to cooperate with Samdech Hun Sen to provide information,” said Adhoc president and CHRAC chairman Thun Saray.

Hun Sen announced his campaign in earnest March 5, pledging to target CPP officials in particular for encroaching on state land, and warning that there would be “bloodshed” if he did not receive cooperation.

At the press conference, Thun Saray said NGOs were dissatisfied with the performance to date of the National Authority for the Re­solution of Land Disputes, and that it was time for Hun Sen to take direct action.

“Samdech Hun Sen has the most power—we hope that he can solve the big issues,” he said.

The NGOs will soon provide Hun Sen with information on five land cases that they consider the most serious, Thun Saray said.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment. However, CPP lawmaker Ho Naun said that if the NGOs have good intentions in providing information to Hun Sen, he would gladly accept their assistance. The government needs participation from NGOs, she added.

Ok Socheat, adviser to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said Hun Sen’s campaign was only a ploy to get votes ahead of Sunday’s commune election. But Kek Ga­la­bru, president of local rights group Licadho, said NGOs do not view the prime minister’s campaign as an idle promise, and hope to see it bear fruit.

Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that regardless of the prime minister’s sincerity, his promise is a sign that his ruling CPP is treating land grabbing as a high profile issue.


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