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Rights Commission Lambasts Ongoing Land Problem

 Phay Siphan is a Cambodian government spokesman.
Phay Siphan is a Cambodian government spokesman.

The Asian Human Rights Commission on Thursday issued sharp criticism of the continued problem of land grabs, including the jailing of those who demonstrate against it.

The rights commission estimated that 133,000, more than 10 percent of Phnom Penh's residents, have been evicted in the capital since 1990.

“The Cambodian courts continue to act on behalf of rich and powerful interests, ignoring the evidence, the Land Law and other relevant legislation, enforcing eviction where ownership remains undecided and imprisoning those who dare to protest,” the commission said, citing the rights group Licadho.

“Cambodian courts are not able to protect land titles,” the commission said. “Their function is not the protection of the individual but the interests of those who are in power. The idea of the balancing of interests is an alien concept in Cambodia. The role of the authorities is to protect the state, not the people.”

Land titles are no protection either, the commission said. “It is only when the company begins the operation to redevelop the land that the original owners get to know that the land they rightfully own has been given away.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed the criticism, which he said “aims only at degrading the Cambodian government and the courts.”