By Pech Sotheary
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 10, 2017
The Indigenous People Network and civil society organisations yesterday asked the government to speed up registration of indigenous collective lands.
At a celebration of the 23rd International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, in Kampong Thom province’s Old Stadium, indigenous people’s representative Chhin Nak said that the government had been paying attention and promoting the rights of indigenous people who are living on land they depend on for survival.
However, Ms Nak said the government could be doing more, both in terms of granting communal land titles at a faster pace, and protecting minority groups from encroaching development, such as hydropower dams.
“We strongly expect that the authorities at all levels will immediately address all our concerns,” she said.
Executive director of the NGO Forum Tek Vannara also said that indigenous peoples in Cambodia rely almost completely on land, forests and natural resources to survive.
He said some minority groups face threats to their livelihoods, including dam construction, major agro-industrial projects and mining projects.
“We request that the government expedite the registration of indigenous people’s collective land as much as possible,” he said.
Kim Sambath, a human rights officer at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said many minority groups had been recognised by the government, but not enough have had collective land titles awarded to them.
Currently, there are 124 indigenous communities recognised by the Ministry of Rural Development, 111 communities recognised as legal entities by the Ministry of the Interior, but only 18 communities had received collective land titles from the Land Ministry, according to Mr Sambath.
“We are far from the promise of providing land titles to 10 communities per year,” he said. “The Cambodian government must continue to demonstrate its will to aid minority groups.”