UN Office Rebukes City Hall Over Evictions

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Wednesday, as well as opposition parties, blasted Phnom Penh’s City Hall for the violent Saturday eviction of Dey Krahorm residents.

“The municipal authorities have failed to uphold the law and protect the rights of its residents of Dey Krahorm,” the UN statement said. “This is the latest in a far too long series of violent evictions in the capital.”

Municipal Governor Kep Chuk-tema and other City Hall officials could not be reached Monday.

On Saturday, the remaining 90 to 150 Dey Krahorm holdout families were forced from their homes by police and military police.

“The eviction was carried out in the middle of the night, with bulldozers, tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, and workers equipped with sticks and axes contracted to demolish the houses,” the UNOHCHR statement said.

Municipal Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said following the eviction that negotiations between the holdout residents and developer 7NG broke down because the villagers were asking for too large an amount of compensation.

The remaining residents de-clined to accept an offer of $20,000 or alternative housing.

“[This eviction] illustrates the fundamental weakness of the rule of law, when ordinary citizens are faced with big corporate interests, supported by public authorities,” the statement said, adding that 7NG, which has pulled the cash offer from the table, should reconsider paying the evicted residents.

SRP and Human Rights Party also condemned the eviction, saying in a joint statement Wednesday that those involved should be punished according to article 253 of the 2001 land law. The article states that those guilty of using violence against “a possessor in good faith of an immovable property,” should be punished with fines up to $6,250 and/or two to six years in prison.

“SRP and HRP lawmakers asks Municipal Governor [Kep Chukte-ma] to provide food support, health services and education to those affected by evictions and give land in compensation,” the parties said.

7NG adviser Srey Sothea de-clined to comment on criticism from UNOHCHR or the opposition parties but said the company had told villagers still camped where Dey Krahorm used to be, to leave.

“Soon we will ask them to leave. We cannot allow them to stay,” he added.

 

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