Prime Minister Hun Sen has signed an order suspending licenses for economic land concessions, saying Monday it was “necessary and urgent.”
The government can now withdraw the concession of any company that does not follow an agreement or that causes deforestation or harms the livelihoods or residents and local communities, according to the signed order.
The rights group Adhoc reported in March an increase in land concessions that ranged from 70 to 99 years and spanned some 2.3 million hectares across 19 provinces.
Many of the concessions hurt what is supposed to be preserved forest land or national parks, the report found. Ny Chakrya, head of investigation for Adhoc, said Hun Sen’s order “will not be sustainable” without proper judicial implementation.
And Kem Sokha, head of the opposition Human Rights Party, called it “demagogy” ahead of commune elections slated for June. “It’s like when Hun Sen promises to cut off his head if he can’t master deforestation, yet the illegal logging still occurs,” Kem Sokha said.