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12 Nov 2018

Joshua Lipes, Radio Free Asia,
Joshua Lipes, Radio Free Asia,
Joshua Lipes, Radio Free Asia

Cambodia: Groups call on UN Special Rapporteur Smith to investigate gov't involvement in land grabbing cases

"Coalition Calls on UN Expert to Investigate Claims of State-Backed Land Grabs in Cambodia," 12 November 2018

A global coalition of grassroots groups of small food producers and food sovereignty advocates has called on a United Nations expert to probe allegations of state-perpetrated land grabs in Cambodia ahead of an upcoming review of the human rights situation in the country.

...[T]he People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) urged the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith to investigate after more than 1,000 people from around the country gathered to submit their land dispute claims to various government agencies...but were blocked by authorities.

“We are enraged that people were denied their rights to freely express, assemble, and raise their grievances to the government,” PCFS’ global chairperson Sylvia Mallari said of the gathering’s organizers, who were led by PCFS member group Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC).

...Smith called for “more transparency, fairness and … a holistic approach” in addressing land disputes, and called for the dropping of charges against land rights activist Tep Vanny.

Mallari welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s comments and called on her to investigate the revival of charges against community leaders and development workers in Preah Vihear province’s Prame commune following a fact-finding mission PCFS co-organized with local group Ponlok Khmer (PKH)...

The fact-finding mission found that China’s Guangdong Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co. has grabbed more than 13,000 hectares (32,125 acres) of land in Preah Vihear, in addition to the 36,000 hectares (89,000 acres) it was awarded as part of a 2011 government concession.

Attempts to reach government spokesperson Phay Siphan by phone for comment on the Prame commune land dispute went unanswered Monday, but he has previously stated that the issue is “already resolved,” and that those who have demanded further action are either “anti-Chinese or anti-government.”