The ADB has released a legal opinion on the disputed ownership of the Samrong Estate in Phnom Penh prepared by Cambodian law firm HBS Law.
According to a statement issued by the ADB, “The independent legal opinion provided by HBS Law concludes that the Samrong Estate is public State property under the Cambodian law and it is not subject to private ownership. The independent legal opinion is based on review of applicable laws, relevant documents, and letters and receipts provided by the people who live, farm or have businesses in the Samrong Estate.”
Residents and supporters have argued otherwise, claiming, among other things, that any State claims to the land were nullified by the 2001 Land Law which nullifies any “any regime of ownership before 1979”. Hence, if the land is needed for the future railway, it should be expropriated according to the law and residents should be compensated at market rates.
Unlike most of the residents affected by the railways rehabilitation project, residents on the land in Samrong Estate do not live by the railway tracks, but in an area identified for a new railway station.