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Sar Kheng says Kingdom is addressing European Union’s land dispute concerns

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Interior Minister Sar Kheng speaks during a meeting. KT/Siv Channa

Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday said that the government has already made progress on one of the points listed in the European Commission’s preliminary report on whether the Kingdom should retain its Everything-but-arms trade status with the European Union.

The government is currently reviewing the preliminary report, which was submitted last week, and Mr Kheng yesterday revealed that one of the points of concern listed by the EC is land disputes in the Kingdom.

“I am interested in one point written in the preliminary report,” Mr Kheng said. “It was about resolving land disputes.”

“The government has clearly put a lot of effort into it,” he added. “It remains a problem, but it has been narrowed down. The EC’s report acknowledges positive progress.”

According to a report issued by the Ministry of Land Management on October 2, its cadastral committee received a total of 1,894 complaints on land disputes.

Of those, the ministry solved 1,765 cases and refused to investigate one because it was not under their jurisdiction. The rest is yet to be resolved.

The EBA status allows preferential access to the European Union market. It has been under review by the EC since February. The EC said duty-free trade under the EBA may be suspended due to serious and systematic violations of labour and human rights.

Earlier this month, the EC said the preliminary report, which outlined findings that triggered an investigation in February, was finalised and sent to the government.

It said Cambodia now has one month to react to the preliminary report before it makes a decision in February on whether the Kingdom’s EBA status should be temporarily withdrawn.

Mr Kheng yesterday said many areas of concern are listed in the preliminary report, but called many of them useless because they were repetitive and vague.

“I read through it until the end. In fact, I think if our officials wrote the report, it would have been 20 to 30 pages long,” he said. “In one area of concern, they raised an issue five to ten times – it was again and again. They made it long, but the meaning was very short if we summarised it.”

Ngy Chanphal, a secretary of state with the Interior Ministry, yesterday said the EC’s preliminary report noted positive steps taken by the government in the past nine months to retain the Kingdom’s EBA status.

“The report documented positive progress and setbacks in areas of concern,” Mr Chanphal said. “Overall, I think the report was good and helpful.”

“There are points in which the government has already improved on, but they were not noted because of the time difference when the report was drafted,” he added.

Mr Chanphal noted the report is being reviewed by ministries and other institutions. He said the government will respond in December.

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