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What ?

The Land Reform Project seeks to promote human rights related to land disputes throughout Cambodia by implementing cooperation over a broad scope of activities with affected communities, individual land activists, the authorities, partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community based organizations (CBOs).

The first phase of the Land Reform Project implemented a wide range of activities in order to reform the legal, institutional and policy framework that facilitates the widespread transfer of land from vulnerable and marginalized groups to the political and economic elite. A main strategy of the Project was to facilitate positive debate among the stakeholders of land conflicts, which was achieved through hosting a series of roundtable discussions and policy platforms.

The overall objective of the current phase of the Project is to empower vulnerable and marginalized communities whose land has been appropriated by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) for transfer to the wealthy political and economic elite, and the achievement of land security and tenure for these victims, as well as all Cambodians.

The Project will achieve this objective by monitoring and raising awareness of current and potential land violations and abuses suffered by communities in Cambodia; empowering communities affected by land violations and building capacity for activists and community members to advocate for their rights; and finally advocating and campaigning for the promotion and protection of the land rights of members of vulnerable and marginalized communities.

Why ?

Land violations are the most prominent and prevalent form of human rights violations occurring in Cambodia today. It has been estimated that as many as one quarter of Cambodian families have been involved in a land dispute. These disputes involve land grabs by the RGC or related entities, the sale of public land to private entities, and the appropriation of land for economic projects.

Although there is a Land Law in existence, the provisions of the law and its related sub-decrees are often violated in the course of these land transfers. Land transfers such as these violate the rights of the communities and individuals occupying those lands and as a result, vulnerable and marginalized communities are displaced from their homes, deprived of their land and means of making a livelihood, and may also suffer from physical violence, arbitrary arrests, detention and imprisonment.

While ordinary Cambodians affected by land conflicts have attempted to exercise their rights in both the legal and political arenas, too often they do not fully understand their rights or the relevant laws. When they do act, the RGC and private companies subsequently allege that the victims are themselves behaving illegally, thereby permitting dismissal of their complaints.

Therefore an important element of the Land Reform Project will be the training of community activists and members to educate them on their rights, the laws relating to land rights and advocacy strategies, and the actions they can legally take. In doing so, the Project will seek to remove the means by which the RGC and private companies can overlook and ignore the victims of illegal land grabs.

How ?

CCHR Land Reform Project is implementing a broad set of activities in order to improve the human rights and legal standards directly related to land issues:
  • Increasing public awareness of activists who are advocating for their and their communities’ land rights, and communities that have been harmed by the RGC’s land policies;
  • Compiling comprehensive data on land abuses to increase public awareness of violations of communities’ land rights and at-risk communities: this involves compiling and mapping information regarding land violations and abuses, and conducting ongoing monitoring of the land situation, for publication online;
  • Increasing knowledge among community members and activists of the Cambodian Land Law and related laws and of specific technical advocacy techniques;
  • Increasing participation by communities and activists in advocating and seeking the protection of their land rights; and
  • Decreasing the number of land activists judicially harassed and imprisoned for the defense of their and their communities’ land rights by conducting individual campaigns for the release of, or justice for land activists, and conducting legal analyses of and submitting amicus briefs in high profile land rights cases.

Who ?
CCHR Land Reform Project team is cooperating with a broad set of actors, including: the Cambodian public and electorate; local and national government; individuals and communities affected by land conflicts; and land activists, CBOs, NGOs and CSOs working in the land sector in Cambodia.

This Project, with the cooperation with the above mentioned target groups and stakeholders, seeks to ensure that vulnerable and marginalized communities affected by land conflicts together with Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and CSOs are able to take action to recover their land, and hold the RGC and private companies accountable for their actions. Ultimately the Project seeks to achieve land security and tenure for these marginalized people, as well as establishing respect for land rights by the RGC and private companies throughout Cambodia.

Project Presentation
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