Eviction of Dey Krahorm: Cambodia loses the battle to uphold the rule of law !

In a letter sent today to the Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, the International Federation for Human Rights strongly denounced the unlawful character of the forced eviction conducted early morning of January 24th 2009 in Dey Krahorm, in the capital Phnom Penh.

FIDH expressed its dismay over the violence with which the forced eviction was conducted and condemned the illegal practices of private actors and of the municipal authorities in Phnom Penh carried out with the tolerance of the Government. FIDH requested the Prime Minister’s personal intervention so that all families affected be given a fair and just compensation.

Following the publication of the report of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders [1], FIDH conducted a field visit to the capital and met with civil society and the authorities. Our Organization notes with regret that despite the Government’s promises to deal urgently with the issue of land grabbing and forced evictions and respect for the rights of its own citizens, the rule of law and the protection of human rights remain unfulfilled promises.

The demolition of the houses of the 152 families remaining in Dey Krahorm (Red Soil) is another example of persisting impunity in Cambodia. FIDH is concerned about police violence. Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets, threw stones and used a water cannon against villagers and observers while protecting the demolition workers of the 7NG Company. Bulldozers and excavators were brought in this violent context. A LICADHO staff member, trying to assist villagers who were being beaten, was knocked to the ground and kicked and hit by a group of workers.

FIDH notes with concern that many residents of Dey Krahorm had lived there since the 1980s, and most of the house owners had valid claims to ownership of the land under the Land Law. The 7NG Construction Company responsible for these violations had the support of the municipality and the Cambodian authorities in full disregard of law, despite the commitments made to the international community and the donors of Cambodia, and in violation of the Peace agreement containing a clause on the respect of human rights and the United Nations international human rights treaties ratified by the Cambodian Royal Government. The phenomenon of forced evictions in Cambodia, affecting several thousands of people all over the country illustrates the violation of this agreement.

FIDH joins the call of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia and civil society and requests to the Government to urgently address the humanitarian needs of the evicted families and ensure that they are compensated in an adequate and fair manner. Those responsible for the violent eviction and for those harassed and injured by police forces, that were illegally present in the site, should be brought to justice and held accountable for any violation of the Cambodian law.

See the LICADHO Briefing paper

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