Cambodian Government and Private Developers Disrespect Indigenous Communities, NGOs Say
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- The Royal Government of Cambodia and private land developers are exploiting indigenous communities in Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri provinces by signing concession deals for the communities’ land without prior consultation, advocates said on Thursday.
Photo: Indigenous Tampouin people perform a traditional dance in Ratanakkiri Province in Cambodia. Credit: Adam Miller.
“We urge the government as well as the private sector to
respect [indigenous peoples’] rights to their land . . . and their rights
to independence and cultural integrity,” Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of
the NGO Forum, said.
“All these projects must be planned with care, transparency and
The NGO Forum of Cambodia launched its publication on “Free, Prior and Informed
Consent in Development” pointing the finger at the government and companies who
are making land deals behind closed doors that affected indigenous peoples’
One case study in Ratanakkiri’s Malik commune, in Andong Meas district, used in
the publication describes how the Heng Brother Company began bulldozing its
economic concession of 20 hectares of forest.
Villagers, who were unaware a concession had been granted, were bribed with
$100 payments to assist in clearing their own forest land, or have the land
cleared by bulldozers and receive no payment at all.
Department of Mines director Sim Sisokhaly told the
Phnom Penh Post the law was very clear that companies must have the written
agreement of landowners affected by a concession.
“The government has an accurate law, and companies that have economic land
concessions must follow this policy,” Sim Sisokhaly said.
Sek Sophoan, national co-ordinator for the International Labour Office, said yesterday
the obligations of the Cambodian government and private companies to respect
indigenous peoples’ rights were very clear.
The Phnom Penh Post
Published by: Magne Ove Varsi