Cambodia suspends new land grants for companies

Chut Wutty
Image caption The killing of environmental campaigner Chut Wutty prompted worldwide condemnation

The Cambodian government has suspended the granting of land for development by private companies in a bid to curb evictions and illegal logging.

The government also said it would revoke land grants from companies that failed to honour agreements by engaging in such activities.

Evictions have displaced tens of thousands of people and rights groups say land grants should be banned.

A prominent activist was killed last month investigating illegal logging.

Chut Wutty was shot dead by military police while travelling in a threatened forest region in the south-west.

Details of that incident are unclear but police say an officer was also killed in the exchange.

Environmental activists say Cambodia's national parks and wildlife are under threat from development by foreign companies.

Monday's directive from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government would "temporarily suspend granting economic land concessions" to "ensure equity and to strengthen the effectiveness" of leased land management.

The order comes as the UN envoy on human rights, Surya Subedi, visits to examine the impact of such land concessions on local communities.

Typically land "concessions", as they are known in Cambodia, are large tracts of forested or rural land granted to companies who have permission for clearing the territory to form plantations for cash crops such as rubber, oil palm and sugar cane.

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