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Development Must Mean Compensation: Expert

Evictions in Cambodia are not resolved at a scale equal to the development of Cambodian, a rights activist said Monday, at a time when yet another community in Phnom Penh is facing eviction.

Residents of Reak Reay say they are will be uprooted from their home in the Tonle Bassac commune of central Phnom Penh.

While “development is good,” authorities must also meet the needs of the people, said Am Sam Ath, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“Residents wish that authorities will develop [further] by balancing the interest of the villagers with the interest of the company or state,” he said.

“We can see during each eviction people crying, and they don’t want to leave their location,” he said.

Out of 209 Reak Reay families, 150 have agreed to leave the site new construction for Canadia Bank.

Families bought the land from the military after 1999, and Cambodian law stipulates residency of property after possession of five years, he said. But since 2006, the families have been facing pressure to leave. More negotiations with the city are expected after the Khmer New Year.

“Article 44 of the constitution says that the property of someone can be withdrawn for the interest of the public, and the owner must have reasonable compensation,” he said.

Pressuring people to leave constitutes an abuse of human rights, he said. “Authorities must remain in a neutral stance and serve the interests of both residents and investors.”

Phnom Penh’s rapid development has left the outskirts—where many displaced families end up—without infrastructure.

“They cannot find jobs or school for their children,” he said. “They must come to Phnom Penh and rent a house to work a job.”