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Three Huge Land Grants to Companies Despite Hun Sen Ban

Khek Chan Raksmey of Boueng Kak holds a protest sign as she participates in a rally to ask King Norodom Sihamoni to help release of villagers including her mother in front of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Monday, June 11, 2012. The villagers were arrested w

The Cambodian government recently granted more than 21,000 hectares of land to private companies for rubber plantations, despite a written order from Prime Minister Hun Sen banning land concessions.

Hun Sen announced a ban on May 7, but since then, at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture, the premier granted land to companies in three provinces, according to documents obtained by VOA Khmer.

Lee Ye Rubber received 7,710 hectares in Siem Reap province. HMH Company received 5,915 hectares in Kampong Thom. And SK Plantation received 8,000 hetares in Ratanakkiri, according to the documents.

The words “economic land concession” are not used in the documents, but Naly Pilorge, director of the rights group Licadho, said the grants are a clear breech of Hun Sen’s order.

“From my point of view, it was really just an election promise that hasn’t been enforced,” she said, referring to the ban.

Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun could not be reached for comment Thursday, and Chan Tong Yves, secretary of state for the ministry, said the grants were not under his purview.

The Cambodian government has rapidly expanded the number of concessions granted to private companies, giving some 2.3 million hectares in 2011 alone, according to the rights group Adhoc.