Phnom Penh city officials on Tuesday for the first time met face to face with former residents from the Borei Keila neighborhood, who have regularly protested since their forced evictions in 2012.
Phnom Penh Governor Khun Sreng said the forum will work toward sorting out “real victims” who should be compensated by the city and a development company from those who should not.
“City Hall is ready to find a solution for everyone who is a real victim and qualified for compensation: a new house given by the development company,” he said.
Some 200 former residents of the Borei Keila development attended Tuesday’s meeting, which was a first of its kind, aimed at preventing more land disputes in what has become an ongoing issue for the city.
Each was given about five minutes to describe his or her case and compensation requests. They were further asked to hand over documentation to the city to ensure they were qualified.
Chhay Kimhorn, one of the evictees, said the forum was not fruitful and that five minutes was not enough time. “We have so many problems to describe to them,” he said.
Chan Soveth, head of monitoring for the rights group Adhoc, said he was not sure the forum would lead to a resolution, but he welcomed it as a first step and initial meeting between the two sides.
“We expect to see more in the future,” he said. “At least it shows that the authorities and the company owners are not comfortable anymore when there are victims outside protesting against them.”