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Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) calls for an end to all evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic and releases new research Evictions and Relocations

 

Impoverished Cambodian families continue to be evicted despite the Covid-19 pandemic making families vulnerable to sickness and extreme poverty. Following ongoing evictions over the past three months, STT is releasing its latest report Evictions and Relocations, which examines the process of eviction and relocation in Phnom Penh up until 2019 from a human rights perspective.

Mr Soeung Saran, the Executive Director of STT, has called for an end to all evictions during the current Covid-19 pandemic:

The world is suffering because of the current pandemic and the poor people of Cambodia are some of the worst hit. Many poor families have lost jobs and have greatly decreased incomes because of Covid-19. STT calls upon the Government to show compassion and cease all evictions until the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects have completely ended. After the pandemic has ended, we ask the Government to respect the human rights of its people and to always provide consultation before evictions take place.”

The report found that most evictions were not conducted in line with human rights principles and standards outlined by the United Nations. In many cases, authorities failed to provide a reasonable notice time to communities before evictions. Other communities were targeted with violence or intimidation before or during their evictions. Overwhelmingly, evicted community respondents reported that they wanted more consultation with authorities before they were forced to leave their homes. Many respondent families were also frustrated that they were evicted on the grounds that they lived in an area illegally, but later found out that the same area or similar areas nearby were leased to a private company.

The following evictions that occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrate that the Government is continuing to evict families against human rights norms and against the explicit requests of urban poor and rural poor communities. These evictions occurred after STT’s report was finalised.

On 20 June 2020, authorities brought bulldozers to Boeung Chhouk A community. Although some community members had been consulted, 13 households had no consultation with authorities before bulldozers arrived at their homes. They were only provided with 15 days’ notice that they would be evicted, well short of the 90 days that human rights guidelines on eviction require.

On 11 June 2020, around 100 families were forcibly evicted from their houses on Boeung Tamok lake by police and Khan Prek Pnov authorities. After receiving letters to evict early in 2019, the authorities arrived in the morning without notice or consultation and began tearing down their homes. Some families’ houses were burnt down; others were demolished by chainsaws. Families from the community were aware that they were living on the lake without permission of the local authorities but said that they had nowhere else they could go. Families had primarily moved to the area to earn a living by fishing.

On 24 April 2020, authorities brought a bulldozer to a site in Boeung Samrong, where 18 families live. Families claim they have owned the land since 1979. The authorities argue that the families are claiming land that is state property, but the families say they have yet to be consulted on the situation. One farmer told STT that the “state has brought violence to us, not the other way round.”

While the report also finds some positive trends recently, such as the use of Circular 03, a directive aimed at resolving land conflicts through consultation, other evidence suggests “relocate or else” tactics are being adopted to intimidate communities into self-eviction. In some evictions, police told community members that if they did not self-evict, the police would not be responsible for the damage caused to their property.

The report recommends the Government work towards a more equitable application of the Land Law (2001), especially as it relates to state public land. Around 70% of the evictions studied had been carried out on the grounds that communities were living illegally on public property. The contradictory practice of evicting communities from public property but allowing other groups, such as companies and private individuals, to develop the same area has created a feeling of injustice among urban poor communities.

Evictions are a traumatising experience and the Covid-19 pandemic presents even greater risks to evicted families, many of whom have reported reduced incomes and job loss as major problems they are facing because of the pandemic. Eviction from their homes will only worsen their situations and could force many families into greater poverty. The Government must take action to cease all evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic and endeavour to consult with communities after the Covid-19 pandemic has ended.

You can download the reports as PDF files here! Khmer – English

 

For further information please contact:

Contact for more information:
Mr. Soeung Saran, Executive Director of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
Email: director@teangtnaut.org
Mr. Isaac Daniels, Research and Advocacy Adviser of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
E-mail: advisor1@teangtnaut.org

 

 

 

FACTS AND FIGURES #36: Public Streets and Sidewalks

STT’s latest research, ‘Facts & Figures #36: Public Streets and Sidewalks’ maps the streets, sidewalks and open public spaces of Phnom Penh to create a picture of a city lacking in inclusivity. This research applies the indicator 11.7.1 of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which focuses on inclusive cities, to Phnom Penh and discusses its results.

STT researchers found that streets, sidewalk and open public space within the city accounted for a dismal 16.36% of total space within the city.  Streets and sidewalks make up 14.26%, which is not bad when compared to Bangkok (15.9%) and Manila (15.2%) but is significantly below Singapore (21.6%). The 2.10% of open public space in Phnom Penh, such as parks, places to exercise, and places for civic participation, is well below the international standard of 10% and most open public space is found in the inner khans of Daun Penh and Chamkar Mon.

You can download the reports as PDF files here! KhmerEnglish

Contact for more information:
Mr. Soeung Saran, Executive Director of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
Email: director@teangtnaut.org
Tel: 089 666 013
Mr. Isaac Daniels, Program Adviser of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
E-mail: advisor@teangtnaut.org

THE PHNOM PENH SURVEY: A Study on Urban Poor Settlement in Phnom Penh

This report aims to add to the body of research and information on urban poor settlements in Phnom Penh. There have been several major studies that have been conducted on the urban poor and their dwellings in Phnom Penh’s inner and outer Khans. Using various methods, these studies have collected data on urban poor settlements and families, information on evictions and threat of eviction, land titling, and land categorization as well as general socio-economic conditions.

The number of Urban Poor Settlements has been decreasing from 410 in 2009 to 340 in 2014 and 277 in this 2018. Settlements have decreased for a variety of reasons, including development and eviction to elsewhere, and Phnom Penh’s current 277 urban poor settlements still face many challenges especially as the majority of them don’t have land titles, documentation for land titles, or access to land rights information. Further, nearly half of all urban poor settlements are located on or near canals, lakes, or rivers, which are state public land and can not be privately owned. Thus, many communities are susceptible to eviction and live with tenure insecurity as a daily fear.

You can download full report as PDF files here: Khmer | English

Contact for more information:
Mr. Soeung Saran, Executive Director of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
Email: director@teangtnaut.org
Tel: 089 666 013
Mr. Isaac Daniels, Program Adviser of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT)
E-mail: advisor@teangtnaut.org

Thousands march on World Habitat Day, authorities accept petition

5 October 2015

On World Habitat Day 2015, authorities accepted a petition from hundreds of protestors who marched to demand housing rights and an end to forced evictions in Cambodia.

On the morning of 5 October, community members, monks, children, tuk-tuk drivers and civil society organizations gathered at Dey Krahorm – a former eviction site – to march to the National Assembly. The crowd wore black tshirts and hats made from palm leaves, a traditional housing material in Cambodia. Representatives of more than 150 urban and rural communities and civil society organisations were invited to take part.

Outside the National Assembly, community members delivered speeches and monks offered a blessing asking for an end to forced eviction. Helium balloons were attached to model houses and released to highlight the importance of housing as a human right. Children displayed their own model ideal houses amidst banners and songs.

Police blockades prevented protestors from continuing their march to the ministry buildings. Instead, officials from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Land Management and Municipality of Phnom Penh came to the protestors and accepted the petitions in front of the National Assembly. Representatives of the National Assembly came out to accept the petition. Authorities from Chamcarmon district district also accepted a model house.

The march participants included many people personally affected by forced evictions. As one participant expressed, “I am here to demand housing rights. I was evicted and now don’t have a house, this right to has been denied for me.”

Others shared what the event meant to them.
“I am happy to be here to affirm our human right to housing”.
“I want to request of companies developing land: don’t abuse the rights of the people.”
“I want to ask the government: do not evict people and send them to a far away place.”

STT’s Executive Director, Mr Ee Sarom, spoke to media about the right to adequate housing and forced evictions in Cambodia. “People here are those who affected by land and housing right issues. They were forcibly evicted from their land and housing,” he said. “They have come here to show the government about their problems and seek a solution.”

The march commemorated the 30th anniversary of World Habitat Day, first designated in 1985. As one participant expressed: “I feel encouraged to be here, because today is an international day. It is not just about Cambodian communities abused by the Government, we celebrate with people all over the world.”

STT Rental Housing Survey

Local urban NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) has released its latest report, ‘The Phnom Penh Rental  Housing Survey’, which investigates the situation of urban poor renters in the country’s capital.  Read More

End of the Line

End of the Line: Impacts of Resettlement Under the Railways Project in Phnom Penh, a new report by Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), reveals Phnom Penh Households relocated as part of the ADB- and AusAID-funded railways rehabilitation project have been harmed. Using resettlement expert Michael Cernea’s theoretical framework, the report shows how Project partners failed to mitigate well-established risks associated with resettlement, to the detriment of the living standards of the people affected.. You can access the media statement released in conjunction with the report’s publication on Jul. 4, 2013 here.

Download the report here: High resolution version (12.6MB) / Low resolution version (2MB)