The EU’s ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar (centre), at a Land Management Ministry meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh.
The EU’s ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar (centre), at a Land Management Ministry meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

UN, EU reps meet with officials over land row

Officials from several ministries met with representatives of the EU and UN yesterday to update them on their progress resolving land disputes between more than 1,000 families and sugarcane companies, though the EU ambassador remained tight-lipped about his thoughts on the process.

In a press release yesterday, the Ministry of Land Management announced that 209 families locked in land disputes with sugar companies – which span four provinces and include several owned by okhnas Ly Yong Phat and Heng Huy – had accepted offers from the ministry, while officials had thrown out 802 cases and were checking on 352 more.

Since 2009, Europe has granted duty-free access to Cambodian goods under its Everything But Arms programme for least developed countries. Though Europe was once a major purchaser of Cambodian sugar, shipments plunged by 95 percent between 2013 and 2015 amid accusations of land grabbing.

During a brief session with press after the meeting, EU Ambassador George Edgar said the drop was “because of concerns on the part of buyers about exactly the issues that we’ve been here trying to resolve”.

In an email, Edgar added that the meeting was “useful”, but did not respond to questions about whether he found the outcomes satisfactory.

“We hope that the present process can lead to an outcome that is acceptable to all stakeholders, most importantly the affected communities themselves,” he said.

Additional reporting by Daphne Chen