The Indigenous Peoples of 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 World 2020, IWGIA
Source: INW

1,2 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. International Work for Indigenous Affair (IWGIA) said on its Indigenous World 2020 report.

Human rights

The report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has raised concerns about alleged intimidation and attacks against Indigenous Peoples as they seek to exercise their rights related to communal land.

The CERD report also stresses what Indigenous Peoples have been emphasising for years; that the land titling process continues to be too lengthy and bureaucratic, thus preventing Indige- nous groups from being able to efficiently register their communal land. Moreover, the report points out how insufficient free, prior and informed consent is affecting Indigenous communities, with natural resource extraction, industrial and development projects continuing apace, IWGIA reported.

According to the report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights, the human rights situation in the Asia country continues to be one of a repression of political rights. The opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), is still banned and its former President remains in detention. 

The report recognises that the Ministry of the Interior has revoked the law requiring civil society organisations to provide three days’ notice of any activities; however, the Special Rapporteur had received many reports stating that subnational local-level authorities were turning up uninvited to events and meetings, taking photographs, enquiring about organisers and the agenda, or demanding information on participants.

Gatherings in public areas to mark International Women’s Day and International Human Rights Day have consistently been denied in at least four provinces. The Special Rapporteur urged application of the Law on Peaceful Demonstration, the normalisation of peaceful gatherings and thus the strengthening of civil society participation, enabling marginalised or vulnerable groups to be heard.

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