Last Updated: Monday, 14 July 2014, 13:12 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2008 - Cambodia

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 11 March 2008
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2008 - Cambodia, 11 March 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48a7eae5c.html [accessed 14 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Despite a 2001 Land Law to recognize indigenous rights in Cambodia, not a single indigenous group had received title for the collective ownership of their traditional lands by 2007. Regulations crucial to the enforcement of this legislation have still not been approved, resulting in indigenous people being particularly vulnerable to state orchestrated 'land-grabbing' strategies. Following his 2007 visit, the UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia expressed his deep concern about the practice of 'land grabbing', illegal or coercive sales, and the granting of concessions, including mining licences. It is thought that illegal logging in Cambodia has reduced the country's forest cover from 70 per cent in the early 1970s to less than 30 per cent in 2007. Announcements in 2007 of the possible construction of two dams in Cambodia on the Sesan and Srepok rivers have caused concern because of the negative impact they will have on the livelihoods of affected indigenous peoples.

The almost exclusive use of the Khmer language in all fields of public life continues to disadvantage indigenous groups and to some degree other minorities such as the Cham. In localities where the Khmer Leou are a majority, local commune councils still operate exclusively in Khmer and not local languages, making the participation of indigenous peoples who are not fluent in Khmer all but impossible. All communication with higher echelons of state administration is conducted exclusively in Khmer. The government of Cambodia announced at the end of 2006 that it would offer some form of bilingual education for indigenous students up to grade three in five of the north-east provinces, but this does not appear to have been implemented beyond a few pilot programmes. Despite numerous statements by state officials that bilingual education is one way to address the low levels of school participation of many minorities, the country's second National Education for All Plan is actually silent on the goal of education in minority languages.

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