Five families from Oddar Meanchey province’s Samraong district have filed a complaint with district authorities and rights group Adhoc in a bid to reclaim more than 16 hectares of land they allege was sold to other villagers by their village chief without their permission.
Adhoc provincial coordinator Srey Naren said Khvan Vanna, chief of Konkriel commune’s Trapaing Toung village, had abused his authority and had no right to sell what were given to the families as social land concessions.
“The villagers are claiming that the village chief sold their land to other people while they were away” for various reasons, he said.
Villager Hun Roeuy, 39, said that in 2007 she received land from the authorities. Then, in November 2011, she had to leave her village for six months while her husband received treatment for tuberculosis in Siem Reap and during that time she said Mr. Vanna sold her two hectares of land.
“[He] has sold my farmland to another person from another place without giving me any compensation,” she said.
Mr. Vanna categorically denied the villagers’ claims.
“I did not sell their land despite what they are saying,” he said. “These people do not have any land titles or documents, yet are claiming this is their land.”
Commune chief Loeung Noch said that in 2007 authorities provided social land concessions to villagers that could be revoked if one of the terms of the agreement was violated. If the resident abandoned their home for six months their property could be given, not sold, to another villager, he said.
“We are not sure if the village chief has sold the land, but the land is part of a social land concession and should not be sold,” he said.
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