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17 Jun 2022

Khun Sokun, VOD

Cambodia: An indigenous community representative arrested on charges of alleged illegal encroachment of a dispute land

"Indigenous Community Representative Arrested Over Land Dispute", 17 June 2022

The Kampong Thom Provincial Court has put an indigenous Kuy community representative in pretrial detention for violence against a property owner following a complaint from a local company.

Heng Phen, second deputy of the local Kuy community in Sandan district, was arrested ... and charged under the Land Law with committing violence against a property owner for alleged illegal encroachment on the company’s land, said provincial court spokesman Say Veasna.

The community has long been in dispute with Sambath Platinum, which received nearly 2,500 hectares ... for a rubber plantation in Boeng Per Wildlife Sanctuary.

Hean Hiek, first deputy of the Kbet Changho Khnar community, rejected the accusations against Phen.

“She has done nothing wrong. She did not do anything affecting the company’s benefit, and her arrest violated the rights of indigenous people because there was no clear reason,” Hiek said, adding that they had seen no arrest warrant.

Hiek said that the company had begun clearing the community’s farmland ..., the provincial administration told the company to cut off 130 hectares of its concession for the community and stay 100 meters away from a canal they used. But, according to Hiek, the company had not complied. The community alleges the company has cleared about 700 of 1,000 hectares of the community’s land.

A letter issued by the Kampong Thom land management department ... ordered Sambath Platinum to stop planting boundary poles, clearing crops, and removing the community’s markers. It also ordered the company to compensate the community for crop damage...

Chheng Phann, a company representative and the case’s plaintiff, could not be reached ...