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Hun Sen Orders Land Sale Investigation

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday ordered the Council for Development of Cambodia to conduct an investigation into alleged deception of residents in land deals with private companies.

Speaking at a government and private sector forum, the prime minister warned that some investments in the country had worried Cambodians, and said companies who had forced people to sell land for them would lose their development licenses.

“You forced people to sell the land, so [the licenses] must be terminated,” he said. “This measure is to protect people from losing their land due to coercion by the private sector, which has used its name as an investor and forced people to sell the land.”

Hun Sen pointedly ordered the CDC to investigate a land sale in Kandal province’s Vihear Sour commune.

Mu Sochua, Sam Rainsy Party deputy secretary-general, said Wednesday she was skeptical such a measure would lead to any action against the companies.

Many private companies had tricked people into selling their land, or forced them from their land, but they did so with official backing, she said.

“Many senior government officials and local authorities are behind some of those companies,” she said.

The rights group Adhoc reported in 2007 a worrying trend of private companies forcing the sale of land at low prices or taking land after delivering a small deposit for its sale.