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UN envoy meets with Land Minister

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Rhona Smith attends a meeting with Land Management Minister Chea Sophara yesterday. MOLM

Rhona Smith, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, met with Land Management Minister Chea Sophara yesterday to discuss matters pertaining to land and human rights in the Kingdom.

After the meeting, Ms Smith said issues regarding land rights and the registration of land titles were discussed to ensure that no one in Cambodia is left behind.

Ms Smith said other issues, such as affordable housing, were also discussed.

“I think in Cambodia, land remains a very key issue and the minister is committed to ensuring appropriate land-titling,” she said. “I think it’s important for human rights.”

The meeting at the Land Management Ministry office in Phnom Penh between Ms Smith and Mr Sophara lasted more than an hour. Mr Sophara declined to comment yesterday.

In a press release, the ministry said Mr Sophara told Ms Smith that five million plots of land, or 71 percent of a total of seven million plots of land, will be used by the people.

The ministry also said that 24 indigenous communities have registered and provided with social land titles for housing. It also noted that the ministry is partnering with the private sector to develop housing.

“[Mr Sophara] said that resolutions for land disputes are based on the law and respect for human rights,” the ministry said.

During her visit to the Kingdom last year, Ms Smith met with ministers, politicians, NGOs, land activists and provincial governors.

This time, Ms Smith plans to meet senior officials, representatives of civil society and members of communities.

Ms Smith undertakes regular missions to Cambodia and reports annually to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council, which appointed her in March 2015. She will present her next report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in September.

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