Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon has urged local authorities to follow the instructions of the Council of Ministers on how to prevent illegal land encroachment.
On Thursday, the Council of Ministers issued a letter to Mr Sakhon, who is chairman of the National Committee to Prevent Illegal Land Encroachment, listing nine points on how local authorities should work with the committee.
These points included taking legal action against masterminds, mapping forest lands, reporting re-confiscated land and monitoring law enforcement.
Mr Sakhon yesterday said these points are needed because despite government efforts, cases of illegal land encroachment have been discovered in at least five provinces, including Preah Sihanouk, Mondulkiri, Kampong Chhnang, Ratanakiri and Preah Vihear.
“As for preventive measures, we have first informed each provincial governor to set up a provincial sub-committee to identify land being illegally occupied and those who permitted the occupation,” he said. “The committee will go to check and assess.”
“If the committee finds that a commune chief or district governor was involved in allowing illegal occupation, then we will take action by sending their case to court,” he added. “These measures are taken to strengthen law enforcement. If we neglect it, it will cause the illegal occupation of state lands, which will make it difficult for us to conduct crackdowns in the future.”
According to the letter, which was signed by Khoy Khun Hour, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, the committee must carry out its work in accordance with the Law on Forestry to crack down on illegal land occupation.
“Legal action must be taken against brokers and ringleaders who organise illegal clearings, burnings and encroachments of forest lands,” it said. “Prepare a map detailing forest land uses and register re-confiscated state land.”
It added that sub-committees in each province must provide data and coordinate with provincial authorities to search for illegal documents.