Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered government officials to review the draft land law, which he said should clearly guarantee and protect the rights of indigenous people.
In a letter sent to the Ministry of Urbanization and Construction, Hun Sen wrote: “I would like you to review the draft land law so that it clearly defines community ownership and clearly states the guarantee and protection of this ownership.”
Earlier in the month, King Norodom Sihanouk sent letters to Hun Sen, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Senate President Chea Sim, asking them to look for ways to protect the land rights of citizens. The King attached a copy of a Cambodia Daily article that described the concerns of those representing hill-tribe people in northeastern Cambodia that speculators, logging companies and others may use the law to take land from to hill tribes.
Hun Sen sent a separate letter to the King, praising him for paying attention to the land rights of people in remote areas. Hun Sen noted that while the draft law does recognize rights of the indigenous communities, it doesn’t properly deal with the jurisdiction issues of plantations and indigenous settlements.
“Concerning the development plan which affects the community lands, the law requires a consultation with the community,” Hun Sen wrote to the King. “[In addition to] this, I have ordered the law to be reviewed.”
The King on Wednesday wrote his “profound thanks” to Hun Sen for his attention to the issue and praised the prime minister for his compassion for poor people who own little land.