Rights Commission Meets Environment Minister

The National Assembly’s human rights commission met on Friday with Environment Minister Say Sam Al to deliver its recommendation that the government review private land concessions held by four companies locked in land disputes with villagers in Koh Kong province, officials said.

The commission last month visited four communities in Sre Ambel, Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts that are involved in ongoing disputes with Heng Huy Agri­cultural Group, Union Develop­ment Group and two companies—Koh Kong SEZ and Koh Kong Sugar—linked to CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat. 

CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang, who led the delegation, said there was clear evidence that the four companies had breached government policy by carrying out forced evictions and burning down villagers’ houses.

“We informed him of the villagers’ reports of injustices and told him that in some cases, they were forced to accept compensation,” Mr. Chhay Eang told reporters at a press conference following the meeting.

“Where I went, most villagers living there are landowners and they farm and grow rice on the land…. I told the ministry about the problems because if we all recognize the problems I believe we can find a resolution in the end,” he continued, adding he had submitted a complaint on behalf of 287 families.

Mr. Sam Al said he recognized the concerns of the four communities and had been working hard to find a satisfactory solution since he was appointed as environment minister last year.

“When I first took over this position, I immediately went [to Koh Kong] to tell the companies to stop as these cases were clearly happening,” he said.

“You must understand that there is not just one simple case. There are many problems and I am currently trying to solve them—for the whole nation,” he said.

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