PHNOM PENH —
More than half a million people have been affected by land disputes over the last 14 years, according to a report by the rights group Licadho.
The government has rejected those figures.
Sar Sovann, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, told reporters Thursday the report “does not reflect reality.” There are only 3,000 to 4,000 sites that “have problems,” he said.
Land disputes have become on ongoing problem in Cambodia, where development deals often push out the rural and urban poor, creating conflict.
Am Sam Ath, Licadho’s lead investigator, said its reports were “based on fact.”
Licadho says a “wave” of land grabs this year continues, impacting thousands of families in nearly all the provinces, including land disputes between villagers and development companies or with illegal loggers.
Sar Sovann said the government has acknowledged the land grab problem and is working to address it.
As he spoke Thursday, some 300 Kouy ethnic minority villagers protested in Preah Vihear province, claiming two Chinese companies were clearing their land.