Joint submission on the Human Rights Situation of Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia
45th regular session of the Human Rights Council
14 September to 2 October 2020
Agenda Item 2
Country situations information on the human rights situation of Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia
IWGIA and AIPP are happy to learn from the report to the HRC that the OHCHR has been raising awareness and given training to the ministry of Justice staff on non-judicial grievance settlement mechanisms, with a focus on gender-related land rights disputes. And that the support of OHCHR has resulted in dispute resolution between IPs in Mondulkiri and Socfin rubber plantation where most land disputes relating to collective areas have been resolved and will be included in the communities’ applications for communal land titling.
Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia
Cambodia is home to 24 different Indigenous Peoples, who speak mostly Mon-Khmer or Austronesian languages and constitute 1.4% of the national population, or around 400,000 individuals. The Indigenous territories include the forested plateaus and highlands of North-eastern Cambodia, approximately 25% of the national territory. While not disaggregated in the national census, other data confirms that Cambodian Indigenous Peoples continue to face discrimination and forced displacement from their lands, which is extinguishing them as distinct groups.
These patterns are driven by ongoing state and transnational corporate ventures for resource extraction (mainly timber, minerals, hydro and agribusiness), coupled with growing in-migration from other parts of the country. Cambodia voted in 2007 to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without reservation, and has ratified the CERD, CEDAW and CRC but has still not ratified ILO Convention 169.
Main challenges for Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia:
Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia face constant threats against their land tenure security. Land rights of indigenous peoples in Cambodia are constantly violated, and land is grabbed in large scale concessions for mining, commercial plantation and other resource extraction. The consequences for the indigenous communities are devastating leaving them homeless without any means for survival, protection of their culture or dignity. Even during COVID-19 land grabbing has reportedly been continuing, and any protest has been brutally silenced.
The repressive regime ruling the Kingdom of Cambodia is leading an undemocratic governance, silencing independent media and anyone in opposition to the official policies and agendas of the government. Civic space is seriously limited by this autocratic regime, where basic freedoms are non-existing.
- IWGIA and AIPP urge OHCHR to continue to raise awareness of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia to their ancestral lands, territories and natural resources. During COVID-19 we get reports of continued and intensified land-grabbing and human rights violations – especially against indigenous human rights defenders. This is unacceptable and needs to stop.
- AIPP and IWGIA commends OHCHR for their continued advocacy for the simplification of the collective titling process, and for continuing to support indigenous communities in the process for registration of their lands.
However, we recommend that more efforts are put into the simplification of the procedures and that more communities are assisted – so far it is a mere drop in the ocean for securing land tenure security for indigenous communities.
Furthermore, effective reprisals and remedy need to be put in place when the land rights of indigenous communities (even when the titling has been done) are not respected.
AIPP and IWGIA have been receiving reports by Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia of the initiative by the government to fast track land titling in the country. However, we are concerned that there are reports of local authorities pushing the communities to apply for individual land titles rather than collective land titles. This is already fermenting conflicts among the community members. We recommend that the OHCHR raises awareness to the Cambodian Government and encourage local level authorities to guide the communities in the collective land titling process in collaboration with credible Indigenous