Khmer Times / Chea Vannak Friday, 12 February 2016 2636 views

Indigenous Community’s Collective Land Still in Danger: Report

The collective land of indigenous communities in Cambodia will continue to face encroachment from economic land concessions and the actions of private companies in the future despite the Cambodian Government’s moratorium on granting ELC licenses, according to a Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) report released yesterday.   

CCHR’s report “Access to Collective Land Titles for Indigenous Communities in Cambodia” shows that of Cambodia’s 458 indigenous communities, only 11 have been able to complete the process of having their land registered, and therefore protected from outside interest, with the government as a collective. 

“In Cambodia, there are as many as 190,000 indigenous people, representing approximately 1.4 percent of Cambodia’s population. Cambodia’s indigenous population comprises 24 different indigenous ethnicities...and 23 minority languages have thus far been identified,” the report reads, adding that indigenous populations inhabit 15 of Cambodia’s 24 provinces. 


CCHR Land Program Coordinator Van Sophat commented that legally registering collective land titles of indigenous communities is still rife with obstacles, due in part to those indigenous communities’ limited knowledge on law of land rights.

“The local authorities’ limited knowledge of the process of legally registering indigenous land titles and their willingness to do so, as well as corruption, are all obstacles that interrupt the efficiency of registering collective land,” Mr. Sophat said. 

Additionally, according to the CCHR report, “a lack of cohesion among the [communities],” is a major obstacle to registering communal land. 

Yun Mane, CCHR board chair, said that participation and financial support from the government will be very important in the fight for indigenous land. The responsibilities of identifying indigenous communities, community conditions, pre-mapping, and internal regulation have thus far all fallen on development partners and organizations. 

“The Land Ministry is able to register only 10 communities a year, which is a main factor interrupting the process of collective land registration,” Mrs. Mane said, adding: “Registration of a single indigenous community’s land needs at least $100.” The identification of a community, he used as an example, costs roughly $20,000 on its own. 

Latt Ky, head of the Land Rights department at Adhoc, said the process of registering the collective lands of indigenous communities is complicated because the procedures are related to three ministries: the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Land Management and Urban Planning and Construction. 

“Ensuring the security of collective lands of indigenous communities needs a real willingness from the government,” Mr. Ky said.
Land Ministry spokesman Seng Loth said the ministry had not yet received the CCHR report yesterday. He added that his ministry has acted in line with the government’s national policy of allowing the registration of collective lands for 10 indigenous communities per year. 


“When receiving a request from indigenous communities to ask for registration of their collective lands, provincial authorities will protect their land for them,” Mr. Loth said, adding, “the report is not reflecting the truth...I don’t know what the outcomes in the report are based on because there was no participation from the ministry in providing data to make the report fully complete and usable.”

Mr. Loth said that until now, his ministry has only received 43 requests to register collective land titles. It is going to grant 14 collective land titles soon, he added.



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