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«April 2013 By: Alison Rabe1 In collaboration with the Ratanakiri Communal Land Titling Working Group SVC—NTFP—HA—CLEC—WHH Funding for ...»

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Directive 01BB in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia

Issues and impacts of private land titling in indigenous communities

April 2013

By: Alison Rabe1

In collaboration with the Ratanakiri Communal Land Titling Working Group


Funding for translation provided by Welthungerhilfe

Published by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

Alison Rabe is an independent researcher associated with the Boren Fellowship. The report reflects the


comprehensive assessment of the author regarding research findings from the indigenous peoples of Ratanakiri Province.

1 Acknowledgements

This report is dedicated to the people of the following 79 villages:

Loum, Peng, Nhang, Ket, Ka Nat, Tan Bo Kam, Tang Chi, In, Malik, Katae, Ta Lav, Ka Nong, Ya Sam, Sueng, Su, Chrung, Sala, Tien, Pa Ar, Sa Kreung, Yem, Ka Chak, Ta Ong, Teun, Ta Heuy, Khmeng, Kam Bak, Chang Rea, Sayos, Ka Laeng, Ka Lang, Ka Tieng, Ka Tieng, Ka Chanh, Sakmotr Leu, Sakmotr Kraom, Thmei, Pa Tat, Pa Tang, Ten Ngol, Pa Dal, Phi, Peak, Plang, Kong Thom, Kong Yu, Pak Touch, Ta Kok Chray, Pralae, Kan Saeung, Kreh, Kang Kuy, Ta Ngach, Krala, L'ak, Phum Pir, Kralong, Kam, L'eun Chong, Tang Kamal, Thuoy Tum, Svay, Chan, Tun, Sieng Say, Pha Yang, Ke Kuong, Tumpuon Roeung Touch, Kalai Tavang, Tiem Kraom, Kalai Sapun, Phnum Kok Prov, Kaoh Peak, Khun, Phak Nam, Rak, La Lai, Dal The people from these villages were extremely helpful in providing information for this report. We hope that releasing it will help them succeed in their continued efforts to protect their communal lands.

2 Table of Contents Acknowledgements

Abbreviations and Acronyms


I. Executive Summary

II. Background

1. Indigenous people of Ratanakiri

Natural resource management

Socio-economic situation

2. Communal Land Titling and Directive 01BB

III. Methodology

IV. Research Findings

1. Land loss

2. Pressured process

3. Misinformation and lack of transparency

4. Threats and coercion

V. Impacts of Directive 01BB

1. Privatization leading to loss of land and livelihoods

A. Pressured land sales

B. Loss of livelihoods

2. Divided communities

3. Increased legal complications

4. Ongoing land disputes

VI. Recommendations


Appendix I: Directive 01BB, Instruction 015, Instruction 018, Instruction 020, Instruction 666... 32 Appendix II: Letter on 01BB

Appendix III: List of companies

–  –  –

01BB Used to reference the private land titling project that evolved from Directive 01BB and the accompanying instructions that followed.

AIPP Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact CLEC Community Legal Education Center CLT Communal Land Title CLT-WG Ratanakiri Communal Land Titling Working Group ELC Economic Land Concession HA Highlanders Association NTFP Non-Timber Forest Products RGC Royal Government of Cambodia SVC Save Vulnerable Cambodians WHH Welthungerhilfe

–  –  –

The situation in Cambodia exemplifies this issue. It deserves public attention and urgent government action. The current state of affairs needs to be addressed with a sense of urgency as indigenous peoples are being coerced to acquire private titles and sell them to make way for economic land concessions. Private titles are not consistent with the customary land tenure arrangements of indigenous peoples. They do not recognize the collective nature of indigenous communities, are limited to an area that is insufficient for traditional agricultural practices, and include other conditions that make them inappropriate.

Policies in practice have resulted in greater loss of land rather than secured the collective land tenure of indigenous peoples. While Cambodia has a law that recognizes the land rights of indigenous peoples, implementation has been weak and selective. In particular, the Cambodian government’s issue of economic land concessions on indigenous peoples' lands has often been conducted in a manner that directly violates indigenous rights.

At the global level, indigenous peoples’ customary right to traditional land ownership has been formalized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted by the Cambodian government in 2007, which sets out the minimum standards for the recognition of the collective rights of indigenous peoples as the basis for social justice and achieving equality.

This international human rights instrument affirms the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories, and resources, as well as to their self-determined development. The legal and full recognition of these rights at the local and national levels remains imperative for indigenous peoples’ survival and dignity.

−Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) AIPP is a regional organization founded by indigenous peoples movement in 1988. By strengthening the solidarity and cooperation of indigenous peoples, it is committed to the cause of promoting and defending the rights and wellbeing of indigenous peoples, as well as the protection of the environment and for sustainable development. At present AIPP has 47 members in 14 countries in Asia. AIPP is an NGO in special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

5 I. Executive Summary Indigenous communities depend on land for their livelihoods and make up a majority of Ratanakiri’s population. They inhabit some of the most natural-resource rich areas of the province. Ratanakiri Province is well known for its productive soil, making it attractive for agroindustrial land development projects in the form of economic land concessions (ELCs). ELCs over land cultivated by indigenous peoples have become common in Ratanakiri, but there are a growing number of disputes over land rights related to these large-scale land acquisitions. Land issues have come to a point of crisis.

Since 2001 Indigenous peoples have been able to formalize their customary land ownership by obtaining Communal Land Titles (CLTs) under Cambodia’s Land Law, which allows indigenous villages to use and manage their land with a single title. To date, only five communal titles have been granted to indigenous communities, but the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has claimed that three more will be granted in May. Forty-nine more villages have completed the process and are waiting on the last step.

In July 2012 the RGC halted all CLT processes when it launched Directive 01BB: Measures Reinforcing and Increasing the Efficiency of the Management of Economic Land Concessions. The Directive aimed to expedite the systematic issuance of private land titles and used thousands of student volunteers deployed throughout Cambodia in order to demarcate lands in conflict within ELCs. The directive and its subsequent instructions could have increased indigenous peoples’ land tenure security.

To assess the impact of this new directive and its effects on the relationship between communal land titling and ELCs in Ratanakiri, seven NGOs collected information from January to February 2013 from 79 villages; 26 of the villages affected by Directive 01BB. Village chiefs and elders were asked about village demographics, conflicts with companies, and their current stage of CLT process (if applicable).

Seventy-one of 79 villages were working on communal land titling before Directive 01BB was implemented and were in varying stages of the process. Eighteen of the villages had started the communal titling process in 2012, 17 in 2011, three in 2010, three in 2008, 29 in 2007, and one in 1998. None of these villages have yet received a communal title. Forty of the villages have problems with 26 companies, including ELCs, small-scale concessions, and mining concessions.

Twenty-six villages comprising a total population of 3053 families were affected by Directive 01BB. Additional information was collected from these 26 villages through consultation meetings and questionnaires. Village elders, village chiefs, and community members were asked 6 about the impacts of Directive 01BB on their communities and whether they were satisfied with the project.

According to information compiled from interviewed villagers, nearly all of the families in ten villages had land demarcated for private titles. Land in twelve of the villages was partially demarcated. Four villages refused to allow the students to demarcate, unless they agreed to measure and register their community lands. In total, 1586 of the 3053 families from the 26 villages (52 percent) had land demarcated for private land plots under Directive 01BB.

In 25 out of 26 villages affected by Directive 01BB, interviewed villagers stated that their village was unsatisfied with the private titling process and outcome. One of their most common reasons for dissatisfaction was because the policy did not secure their communal land, and in fact caused them to lose more land. Villagers stated that they preferred communal titles but felt pressured to accept the readily-available private titles. Villages targeted by the policy were living near companies and wanted to formalize their land ownership immediately. They had been working to obtain communal titles but processes were long and expensive, as recognized by the RGC’s Instruction 020. Privatization resulting from 01BB may have also caused increased land loss—in villages where a majority of land was registered for private titles during 01BB, companies had already taken possession of more communal lands.

The 01BB process created pressure on villagers in addition to the stress they were already experiencing from companies. The students only stayed in villages for around one month, which was not enough time for villagers to make unified decisions regarding their land registration or resolve disputes with companies. This created divisions in communities and perpetuated ongoing land disputes.

Misinformation and lack of transparency about Directive 01BB, private titles, and communal titles during the 01BB process also caused villagers to be unsatisfied with the policy.

The Directive’s purpose was not clear from its initial stages as the RGC issued numerous policy changes. The non-transparent, complicated policy modifications left villagers uninformed about how 01BB would affect their land tenure security and conflicts with companies.

The research found that villagers were not fully informed that the 01BB demarcation would not include communal lands. Villagers were also told that the private titles could easily convert to communal titles later, and the Minister of Land recently said in a speech this would be possible, although the law and procedures are still unclear on how this will work. Results of the demarcation were only posted for one month, and unsatisfied villagers were not sure whether to accept or reject the titles if they wanted to continue their efforts to get communal titles. In many 7 cases, villagers were not aware of where or when the preliminary titles were posted, or they could not read the postings, which were in the Khmer language.

Villagers also said they were unsatisfied because the student volunteers and local government authorities threatened and coerced them during the 01BB process. Villagers were told that all of their land would go to the government or companies if they did not accept the private titles. Local government officials said they would not resolve future disputes for villagers if they chose not to participate in 01BB.

As the research findings demonstrate, Directive 01BB has created numerous issues that affect indigenous people and their lands in Ratanakiri Province. Indigenous people, NGOs, and local government officials predicted that the impact of this policy, as implemented, would be loss of indigenous land, livelihoods, identity, and culture. Stakeholders during the research process noted that where indigenous families had private titles, companies could more easily clear communal land and pressure villagers to sell. It was also said that loss of indigenous communal land could lead to loss of livelihoods, and a maximum five-hectare limit per individual title was not enough even for non-indigenous agricultural methods. Many families received much less than the maximum.

The Directive was apparently increasing legal complications and confusion regarding indigenous land rights. From the inception of Directive 01BB, numerous non-transparent, conflicting changes caused misunderstandings for indigenous people and other stakeholders. The Directive’s lack of harmonization with existing legal frameworks was said to undermine indigenous peoples’ rights under the law, favoring company’s claims to land leases over indigenous peoples’ customary land rights.

After the students left villages, land disputes between companies and indigenous peoples continued, and in some instances even worsened. Many villages were targeted for private titles according to companies’ ELC maps even though villagers had pending complaints against companies regarding the accuracy of borders in the map. With only basic training and the ELC maps, the students lacked experience and resources to resolve complicated disputes. Villagers with private titles said that they would continue to use their communal lands, while their complaints in the court against the companies remained pending. Exacerbating the conflicts, some companies had already cleared even more communal land after the 01BB titling process was completed.

8 II. Background 1. Indigenous people of Ratanakiri2

Two-thirds of indigenous people in Cambodia reside in the Northeast. Although they are known as a “minority,” they make up the majority of the population of Ratanakiri. Many different indigenous groups are concentrated in the Northeast. Groups in Ratanakiri include but are not limited to Bruv, Charai, Ka Chak, Kreung, Tompuon, Lun, and Kavet. There are approximately 240 indigenous villages in Ratanakiri Province, usually made up of a few hundred people and governed by a council of local elders and a village chief.

Natural resource management

Nearly all indigenous peoples rely on land to support their livelihood, culture, traditions, and spiritual beliefs. Land is the foundation of their livelihoods, social organization, and identity.

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