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HRW: Cambodia land redistribution campaign open to corruption

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Wednesday called on [press release] Cambodia's donors to oppose a land titling campaign created by Prime Minister Hun Sen, alleging that it lacks accountability and transparency and is prone to abuse. Hun Sen announced on Monday that the program will be suspended until after the country's national elections. HRW Asia Director Brad Adams stated that, while it is good that the program is being suspended, the suspension "demonstrates just how political the effort has been from the outset." Hun Sen has defended the program as an effort to provide documentation to 478,928 families to 1.8 million square meters of land. Adams, however, claims that it has in reality "amounted to a land grab by powerful interests" and that the "campaign is being conducted in a secretive and bullying manner." The national elections will be held on July 28.

Human rights groups have criticized Cambodia for corruption and human rights violations in various areas of its government in recent years. In March HRW accused Cambodia of misusing its judicial system [JURIST report] to suppress dissent and undermine justice. Last year the UN criticized Cambodia as one of many countries whose laws restricting non-governmental organizations curtailed freedom of association [JURIST report]. Earlier that year Cambodia faced criticism from the International Bar Association [official website], which questioned the legitimacy [JURIST report] of its Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia [official website], the court established to try top members of the Khmer Rouge [BBC profile] regime.

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