Conflict & Justice

Cambodia report

At this window, this woman sees rows and rows of new buildings and houses. She and 200 other families live in a community which the governments wants to evict to make room for a new housing development and the woman is defiant. Hundreds of families have already been evicted along the river. Amnesty Int'l say 150,000 people are living in fear of the same fate. Rent in downtown now costs as much as in Chicago, more than $250 a square foot, and the fight for land is getting ugly. This man has just returned from the hospital and he claims he was knocked unconscious by security guards while trying to maintain a boundary fence around the group homes. This lawyer has taken up their case. Under the brutal Khmer Rouge, all property rights were destroyed and when peace came in the 1980s, thousands of people returned to the city and claimed whatever land they could. To introduce order, a 2001 Land Law was established and it states if you've lived in a place more than 5 years, you are entitled to a land title. The president of a leading human rights group says corrupt officials rip off the poor. The courts have never ruled against the government in a land rights case and then people are forcefully evicted. In one forced eviction, around 5,000 villagers were forced into vans and taken to a relocation center which is now a shanty town and has no electricity or clean water. Children there say they've stopped going to schools because they cant afford the transportation back into the city. This analyst says 80% of the land is state land and therefore these people were illegal squatters. US Ambassador is amongst a growing number of international observers that's pressuring the government to deal with this problem justly and is worried this issue could get out of hand. The World Bank is now helping the government to hand out free land rights in accordance with the 2001 law in an effort to stop further land grabbing.

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