KAMPONG SPEU PROVINCE, Cambodia, Nov 29 (Thomson Reuters
Foundation) - C ambodia has been a hot bed of land conflict since
the Khmer Rouge regime's destruction of the nation's property
records to establish a form in communism in the 1970s.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers were forced off their land
during the regime's time in power. A decision on whether the
International Criminal Court (ICC) will proceed with charges of
crimes against humanity against the government and business
leaders is expected in the next few months.
The ICC case is the latest example of land conflict in a
nation which has seen both rapid economic growth and poverty
reduction amid foreign investment.
Campaigners say that without titles demarcating ownership,
powerful interests have been able to take control of vast
swathes of land, displacing local residents in the process.
Cambodia's government agrees there have been territorial
conflicts and says it is working with consultants and business
to protect the rights of small farmers and the urban poor.
Here is a timeline of land politics in Cambodia:
1953: King Norodom Sihanouk proclaims independence from France,
but soon abdicates to go into politics. The kingdom maintained
colonial-era land records for ownership over key properties,
while rural communities used traditional, informal systems to
mark who owned different pieces of land.
March 18, 1970: Premier Lon Nol, backed by the U.S, ousts
Sihanouk as prime minister while the latter is overseas.
April 17, 1975: The Khmer Rouge seize the capital, Phnom Penh,
and start emptying cities and towns in a bid to create an
agrarian society. Property is expropriated, land records
destroyed and much of the population uprooted from traditional
land holding systems.
Jan 7, 1979: Vietnamese troops occupy Phnom Penh, driving the
Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, to the Thai border. The occupation
is to last 10 years.
1992: Cambodia passes its first post-Khmer Rouge land law
allowing for private ownership, the transfer of territory. Large
holdings are known as economic land concessions (ELCs).
May 1993: An election run by the U.N. produces a shaky coalition
between Sihanouk's son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and Hun Sen, a
former Khmer Rouge guerrilla installed as PM by Hanoi in the
August 2001: Cambodia's National Assembly adopts a new Land Law
making it easier for individuals and companies to register land.
March 2003: After years of negotiation, Cambodia and the U.N.
agree to set up a joint "Killing Fields" court to prosecute
those responsible for the Khmer Rouge reign of terror.
May 17, 2012: Prime Minister Hun Sen enacts a moratorium on the
granting of new ELCs and large land holdings by investors. The
directive also includes a systematic review of ELCs.
June 28, 2012: Cambodia's government launches a mass rural land
titling scheme with the help of university students who travel
to rural areas to register land. Hundreds of thousands of people
receive title deeds.
Oct. 7, 2014: Lawyers launch a case at the ICC accusing
Cambodia's government and business elite of forcing 770,000
people off their land. The government denies the charges, which
they say are a ploy by an opposition party.
Oct. 7, 2015: Researchers at the Columbia Center on Sustainable
Investment launch openlandcontracts.org in New York to open
deals with large investors to public scrutiny.
Nov. 2016: Cambodian land ministry official says it has provided
more than four million land titles to farmers and aims to
complete the titling process by 2023.
(Reporting By Chris Arsenault, editing by Jo Griffin and Paola
Totaro; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
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