Recently, The NGO Forum on Cambodia and World Vision Cambodia have launched an important new report, Access to Land Title in Cambodia where more than hundred people from different local and international NGOs, government , medias and community members participated. The report reviews the progress of Systematic Land Registration (SLR) in four areas: Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham and Preah Sihanouk provinces, and areas of Phnom Penh. The study provides important insight into how the SLR process is being undertaken.
The study found that, while the process appears to have been conducted appropriately for those who had access to the system in two of the four study areas, in Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk provinces there were widespread exclusions from the SLR process. There were also significant disputes involving high numbers of households in conflict with small numbers of influential people.
In some areas in Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk province, between one third and four fifths of land parcels remained unregistered after the process had concluded. By contrast in the rural villages of Kampong Cham and Banteay Meanchey provinces over 99% of parcels were registered, there were very few exclusions, and the process appears to have run smoothly.
A city-rural divide is evident in the report, with high levels of exclusions and disputes occurring where land has highest value, especially in Phnom Penh. Reasons for land being left unregistered include on-going land disputes, overlaps with State property, or lack of data.
A further concern highlighted by the study is that land that is subsequently passed on to a new owner is not being properly registered with the cadastral authorities; – it is only being registered at local level, which is insufficient. There is a great need for better information to landowners on this issue.
The report presented many recommendations for the RGC to improve the SLR process, including developing a plan to avoid exclusions and to deal with areas already excluded from SLR; clarifying the status of pre-approved developments vs. legal possession rights; assessing the dispute resolution mechanisms for effectiveness; establishing strategies to improve subsequent registration processes; and developing clear plans to improve state land management with input from all relevant ministries.