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Government Urged to Support Rights Declaration for Minorities

Humanitarian organizations are pushing the Cambodian government to ratify a UN declaration on human rights that would help ensure more respect for the country's ethnic minorities.

The UN declaration, which was approved at the General Assembly last week, says in part that native minorities have the right to ownership and the use of land and resources passed down from their ancestors.

Cambodia's minorities often have different forms of land ownership that leave them open to manipulation by unscrupulous officials and businessmen.

"We appeal to the Cambodian government to support and ratify the UN declaration of the rights for the native minority groups in Cambodia," a minority woman from the Kuoy tribe in Preah Vihear province said at a news conference Wednesday.

Minorities should be included in development discussions before large projects begin, she said.