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Library Land Situation in Cambodia 2013

Land Situation in Cambodia 2013

Land Situation in Cambodia 2013

Resource information

Date of publication
December 2014
Resource Language
ISBN / Resource ID
i-iii, 1-47

ABSTRACTED FROM THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In May 2012 Prime Minister Hun Sen issued Directive 001 (also known as Order 01BB) on ‘Measures to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of management of economic land concessions (ELCs)’ announcing a moratorium on the granting of new ELCs, the review of existing ELCs and the implementation of the so-called “leopard-skin” (or “tiger-skin”) policy, with the aim to allow communities to live side by side with the concessions. In the framework of the implementation of Directive 001, a new land registration campaign was implemented by youth volunteers to speed up the process of land registration, which had been previously carried out, often ineffectually, through sporadic or systematic registration systems. After the issuance of Directive 001, the number of newly granted ELCs dropped dramatically. While in 2012 at least 2,657,470 hectares of land was granted to private companies, in 2013 no new ELCs were issued. On the contrary, government sources reported that more than 330,000 hectares have been seized from ELCs in order to be redistributed to the people. However, the terminology used in Directive 001, which “provisionally” suspends the granting of new ELCs, is concerning. This suggests the government’s lack of engagement in a long-term commitment to the suspension of ELCs, allowing the granting of ELCs to be resumed at any time. Moreover, issues relating to existing ELCs have not been addressed, especially with regard to the disclosure of comprehensive information on ELCs. This is problematic when assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of Directive 001 as it is difficult to determine whether the government effectively complied with point iii) of the directive, which states that the government “shall seize ELCs where companies/concessionaires that have already been given agreement from the Royal Government of Cambodia have not complied with the existing legal procedure or contractual obligations”. Despite the reduction of newly granted ELCs, in 2013 ADHOC registered 29 land dispute cases related to ELCs, the majority of which were concentrated in north-eastern Cambodia, where rubber and other cash crops are commonly grown. In 2013, according to data collected by ADHOC, 485 Social Land Concessions (SLCs) were granted for a total of 626,823.26 hectares, against the 38 SLCs totalling 100,790 hectares granted in 2012. The government reclassified and donated land to the rural poor over the course of 2013 with a peak in the first six months of the year, coinciding with the run-up to the election on 28 July 2013, which cast a shadow over the government’s efforts as it indicates the policy was executed for political gains. Indeed, out of 485 Sub- Decrees, 429 were issued between January and June 2013, while only 56 between July and December. In the month prior to the National Election, a record number of 159 SLCs (averagely 5.3 per day) was reached. Moreover, there is concern that measures taken to implement the SLC policy could actually worsen the situation for vulnerable families and aggravate landlessness as corruption, mismanagement and serious abuses have been reported in relation to SLCs. Firstly, procedures and criteria set out in the Sub-Decree 19 on SLCs have often been disregarded, in particular with regard to community consultations, with the result that in several cases land transferred to SLCs was already claimed by other people or was already in the process of being registered as Indigenous People’s (IPs) collective land. Secondly, given that more than 60 per cent of the arable land in Cambodia is concentrated in the hands of private companies, land available for re-distribution is limited. As a consequence, large portions of forest covered areas, including protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries– already heavily encroached by ELCs and illegal logging activities – have been re-classified as state private land in order to provide ownership to citizens. Moreover, it is difficult to assess whether the land has effectively been redistributed to the people or if these SLCs exist only on paper. A study should be conducted in order to assess whether the land actually reached the target recipients, and impacts of SLCs on local residents should be further analysed.

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