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Half a million Cambodians said affected by land grabs

Phnom Penh - More than half a million Cambodians have been affected by land disputes with the government since 2000, with over 2,000 families affected by often violent land conflicts in the first few months of this year, local rights group Licadho said Tuesday.

After years of condemnation from foreign donors and international rights watchdogs, Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2012 declared a ban on the granting of new land concessions and started a land-titling programme for poor Cambodians.

However, Licadho says, these measures appear to have failed, with the report saying 2,246 families had been affected so far in 2014 in a "new wave" of land grabs.

"Without land, they no longer have the means to provide themselves with the basic requirements for a decent life. The government must act now to end this epidemic of land-grabbing," said Licadho director Naly Pilorge.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the government "try to do their best" in curbing land disputes.

"I understand there are still a number of cases that are so complicated that they have to go to the courts," he said.

Land grabs by high-ranking officials or concessions granted to private companies, and the often violent evictions of poor urban and rural Cambodians that come with them, have for years been one of the country’s most pressing human rights issues.

DPA


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