22 February 2018
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  • » 02/07/2018, 17.46

    CAMBODIA

    UN intervenes after army officer grabs villagers’ land



    The disputed land is located in the O'Sophy Kiri Prey Srong forest, which is protected by the United Nations. Lieutenant Van Limeng sued 13 families in O'Chab Trey village. Many soldiers stationed in a nearby military base now use the land illegally.

    Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Villagers have accused a Cambodian army officer of illegally receiving title to a protected community forest in the remote north-western province of Oddar Meanchey.

    A representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR) and representatives from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodia's oldest human rights organisation, have been asked to intervene in the land dispute.

    Last year, Lieutenant Van Limeng sued 13 families from the village of O'Chab Trey, Anlong Veng district (pictured), for farming the dispute land without permission. He asked for US$ 20,000 in compensation.

    Faced with charges that he took the villagers’ land, the officer said that he holds a valid title deed to about 10 hectares.

    The villagers have countered that he claims 75 hectares and that his deed is dated 2014, years after the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (or UN-REDD Programme) came into effect.

    ADHOC provincial coordinator Srey Naren said he and a UN representative from the UNHCHR’s Battambang bureau visited the area last week.

    They found that the disputed land indeed lies within the O’Sophy Kiri Prey Srong community forest, a 64 square kilometre area recognised by Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture and protected under the UN’s REDD+ program, through which forests are meant to be conserved in exchange for carbon credits.

    The project was set up to protect forest cover in all community forests in Oddar Meanchey, but conservationists say it ran into issues, in part because of the great number of soldiers who had settled in the area at the time, making it difficult to police illegal clearing.

    Oeun Nak, head of the O’Sophy Kiri Prey Srong community, said only 10 square kilometres of the forest have remained pristine with most of its natural products and wildlife, especially the Banteng cattle, having been lost.

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    See also

    17/07/2008 CAMBODIA - THAILAND
    Dialogue begun, troops amassed at temple of Preah Vihar
    Hundreds of soldiers from the two sides continue to arrive at the contested temple, although both sides say the measures are merely defensive. Tension is high and the Thai police have stopped a group going to the temple to protest. A "cordial" telephone call between the two prime ministers.

    05/02/2011 THAILAND - CAMBODIA
    Preah Vihear: fragile cease-fire between Thai and Cambodian armies
    The two days of clashes caused deaths and injuries among soldiers and civilians. Phnom Penh denounces an "invasion" of its territory, and talks about the "explosive" situation along the boundary. Bangkok claims to have protected national sovereignty. Asean appeal: the conflict affects the economy in the area.

    27/04/2011 CAMBODIA-THAILAND
    Clashes on border between Cambodia and Thailand. Bangkok calls off dialogue
    This morning the two armies started to shoot in the Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples area. The dividing line between the two countries is not clearly defined, and is the subject of dispute. An unsuccessful attempt by Indonesia to mediate is called off. The conflict has caused 14 deaths and thousands displaced.

    08/07/2015 CAMBODIA
    Phnom Penh, activists and Buddhist monks protest against illegal logging
    A hundred people protested outside Parliament denouncing the indifference of the ruling majority and the opposition. The message concerns a forest in the north, which is likely to disappear. For environmentalists time "is running out." And traffickers are free to act undisturbed, offloading their goods in China and Vietnam.

    27/05/2004 CAMBODIA
    Cambodian farmers turn to organic rice as demand from the West rises




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