Your reporter, David Eimer, who travelled to Cambodia to report on the
funeral of the former king would have done well to focus on the deep sadness
and affection felt by the people of Cambodia for His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk
rather than try and report on the country’s land issues which he
clearly does not understand.
If Mr Eimer is so adamant to address this topic, it would have been wise
if he had spent more time speaking to the Cambodian authorities responsible
for land issues rather than to representatives of the opposition party
which can only be interpreted as an attempt to bolster the opposition’s
reputation ahead of Cambodia’s national elections in July.
Since Mr Eimer makes a number of allegations relating to land evictions,
I thought it would be helpful to clarify the position. Cambodia’s
land issues date from the time of the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975-1979
when sadly, large numbers of people were evacuated and relocated. There
then followed a decade of civil war; by which time, squatter communities
had developed and there was widespread confusion as to exactly who owned
every piece of land.
In May 2012, the Royal Government of Cambodia introduced a moratorium
on new land concessions and called for a review of all existing concessions.
The government has provided a specific commitment to seize concessions
which have been left underdeveloped or where illegal logging, mining or
other misuse has taken place. The government has also introduced an ambitious
land-titling policy as part of a campaign to address land disputes across
the country. So far this has seen the official reallocation of almost
480,000 hectares of land and the issuing of nearly 110,000 new land title
certificates to villagers. The goal is to allocate more than one million
hectares of land before the national elections in July and two million
hectares by April 2014. These initiatives have been warmly welcomed by
both community associations and human rights bodies in Cambodia.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has himself travelled to 20 provinces to hand
over land title certificates. He has praised the task force of government
workers and youth brigade volunteers who have carried out the important
task of measuring the land to be reallocated. He has also praised the
cooperation of villagers, local authorities and the armed forces in supporting
I should be grateful if you would publish this response in full.