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Collective Land Title of Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia

The situation of communal land titles of indigenous peoples in Cambodia is a complex and challenging issue. Indigenous peoples, who make up about 1.4% of the country’s population, have been living on their ancestral lands for generations, practicing their traditional livelihoods and cultures. However, their land rights are often threatened by land concessions, mining, logging, hydropower dams, and other development projects that encroach on their territories.

Communal Land Titles (CLT)

Cambodia has a legal framework that recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples to collective land titles (CLTs), which grant them ownership and management of their communal lands. The process of obtaining a CLT involves several steps, such as self-identification, legal entity registration, communal land mapping, and land registration. However, this process is very slow and cumbersome, requiring the involvement and coordination of multiple government agencies and stakeholders. Since 2009, only 33 out of around 455 indigenous communities have been granted CLTs, covering about 170,000 hectares of land. Many communities are still waiting for their applications to be approved or processed.

Moreover, the CLTs often do not cover the full extent of the indigenous peoples’ customary lands, which include sacred sites, burial grounds, forests, rivers, and other natural resources that are essential for their spiritual and material well-being. The CLTs are also subject to limitations and conditions imposed by the government, such as restrictions on land use, transfer, and inheritance. Furthermore, the CLTs do not guarantee the protection of the indigenous peoples’ rights from external threats, such as land grabbing, illegal logging, environmental degradation, and human rights violations. There have been many cases where indigenous communities have faced conflicts and disputes with private companies, local authorities, or other actors over their lands and resources.

Therefore, the situation of communal land titles of indigenous peoples in Cambodia is not satisfactory or secure. There is a need for more political will and commitment from the government to respect and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and cultures. There is also a need for more support and participation from civil society organizations, development partners, media, and the public to raise awareness and advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples. Finally, there is a need for more dialogue and cooperation among all stakeholders to find solutions that are fair, inclusive, and sustainable for the benefit of all.