Phnom Penh, March 31, 2015: In responsding to 1,144 families, who adversely effected and oppressed by Union Development Group’s (UDG) development project, 61 participants (15 females) as representatives from CSOs/NGOs, Inter-Ministerial and Ministry of Environment (MoE), local authorities, European Union (EU), UNOHCHR, UDG company and the affected communities joined together for a one-day national workshop on “Seeking for resolution on land issue affecting by the development project of Union Development Group (UDG) in Koh Kong province” organized by The NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) in cooperation with CHRAC, Adhoc, Community Legal Education Center (CLED) and Licadho.
This event was organized in order to discuss and seek for solutions to stop new eviction and resettlement, improve existing new locations, stop violence in the dispute locations, figure how to implement a leopard skin policy, and to seek for the verification on number of affected communities and commitment for resolution by Cambodian government through MoE and UDG.
Dr. Tek Vannara, NGOF’s Executive Director mentioned that UDG is the one project aiming to develop the commerce and tourism resort in accordance with international standard, and it is in the development progress at the moment, since the company, presently, in the process of constructing the new roads, hotels, casino, port and etc.”
“On the other hand, this development project does have negative impacts on the villagers and the environment. For example, the forest around the development location is being destroyed and this effects the villagers’ livelihood, eco-system and wildlife around the area,” said Tek Vannara. “In responding to this issue, we urge the government to properly monitor ongoing implementation of project and the Environment Impact Assessments (EIA) with the participants of all the relevant parties to ensure the transparent and proper compensation to the affected families, and checking the standard of the new houses in resettlement area ,” he added.
During a workshop, H.E, Bun Saroeun claimed that as the project continues there will be no more violations to the families by the authorities. Indeed, in case of a violation, he encouraged the villagers to report it immediately to compentency authorities, particullarly the Ministry of Environment for intervention and prevention.
After active discussion among the participants, especially, between national and sub-national government, local authorities, villagers , NGOs, and Chinese company representatives come up with some suggestions, which they believe it would help solving their problems as following:
- Request NGOs to strengthen collaboration with ministries to study the actual data of affected villagers and remaining affected families who were not agree to accept compensation, and then report to the president of the inter-ministerial committee for intervention
- Suggest that UDG should involve the affected communitines in their development process for fully discussion and decision to avoid negative impacts
- UDG should enforce leopard skin policy for the affected families
- Request that UDG should reveal development master plan
- UDG should suspend the project development on the areas, where affected villagers haven’t got an acceptable solutions
- Stop using the court system to threat land activists (affected communities)
- Request the company to respect their promises
- Call for protections from the local authorities over the community benefits
- The government should ensure transparency and accountability for land conflict reolutions between affected communities and company
Cambodia government granted Union Development Group its multi-billion-dollar, 36,000-hectare land concession, plus 4100 hectares for hydropower dam in Koh Kong for a commercial hub and luxury resort in 2008.