Investigation into Khmer Krom human rights abuses in Takeo province

From July 5-7, 2015, the Minority Rights Organization (MIRO) Human Rights Defender project conducteda research investigation into Khmer Krom human rights abuses (land issues) in the Sla village, Ta Ou commune, Kirivong district, in the Takeo province 95 km away from Takeo town.

Around 70 families have been affected by a blockage in the main road that connects the two ends of theirvillage. A wealthy local family has bought a strategic piece of land and are planning to build a house thatwill block the road. If they finish the construction, the villagers will not be able to cross the village from one end to the other.

Fact-finding:

When MIRO reached Sla village I contacted Mr. Nil Saovry’s as he is a very active member of his community and he is of Khmer Krom origin. After we arrived at his house he reported that 70 families benefit from this road and it has been used by the villagers for a long time. He has not filed an official complaint to the authorities but Ms. Srey Chheoun has submitted three claims to the village chief. Since no solution has been achieved she had been continuing filing complaints to the commune chief. Ms. Srey Chhouen began to collect villager’s thumbprints as a proof of their in satisfaction with the situation. The commune chief threatened Ms. Chheouen alleging that if she loses the complaint she would have to pay a sum of money as compensation. He asked her if she had money or not, and, since she does not have any money, she had to drop the case.

After the incident with Ms. Chheouen MIRO decided to file an official complaint to the commune chief. Since, again, no solution was achieved, I filed a complaint to the Kirivong district. Following the receipt of the complaint, an official came to investigate the situation. He asked me if I would dare to swear that the road was an actual road and I answered him by swearing that yes, it was a road. The cadastral district officer requested to talk to older people of the village (between 60-70 years old) but did not let them speak, just blamed them for the situation. The older villagers stated that they have been traveling through this ancient road since they were very young. The cadastral district officer returned our complaint to the commune chief,who, on his turn, showed a fake plan to me and when I asked to see the plan again he simply waved it and dropped the case. After the authorities’ dismissal, I called the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) office in Phnom Penh and they offered me their provincial staff number. Latter on I contacted ADHOC’s and MIRO’s provincial staff to conduct investigation on this ancient road in order to re-organize the complaint with the support from other organizations. I went to the ADHOC office in Takeo province and the ADHOC and MIRO provincial staff assisted in the submission of the complaint to the Takeo provincial court. However, at the provincial court level, there was still no solution as the court requested the payment of money to the person who was planning to build the house. I replied to the court that there was no need to pay money, as I had already spend a lot of money by going there.

We have not found a solution even after contacting the different officials and submitting complaints to different institutions. No justice has been achieved for the Sla villagers.

While we were conducting the interviews in regard to the land issues, Mr. Nil Saovry’s suggested MIRO to help the 70 Khmer Krom families living in Sla village, Ta Ou commune, Kirivong district, Takeo province. They want their ancient road back for the 70 Khmer Krom families.

Reported by Noun Sovanrith

MIRO staff conducted interview with Mr. Nil Saovry as a complainant. MIRO staff and villagers walked to investigate the ancient road.

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The ancient road was blocked by a wealthy man of the village

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