In recent years, collusion between local politicians and foreign companies – often Chinese – seeking land for factories, hotels, and apartment blocks, is on the rise.
Cambodian human rights group Licadho says that around 400,000 Cambodians have been affected by the land seizures over the past decade, making it a priority issue needing more attention. The World Bank has suspended assistance to Cambodia, pending resolution of some land-grab cases.
“We see hundreds of thousands of families evicted, activists illegally charged and jailed, [and] land ... grabbed,” says Eang Vuthy of Equitable Cambodia, a group that lobbies for land rights, adding that Cambodia's push for economic growth is, in some ways, trampling the rights of poorer citizens.
While Obama met with Hun Sen Monday evening, he is in town for a meeting of Asian leaders including China Premier Wen Jiabao, India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on the last leg of a southeast Asia tour that included Thailand and Myanmar.