The Royal Government has just announced a temporary freeze on new economic land concessions. Economic land concessions have become hugely controversial in recent years, with incidences of forced evictions, land grabs and illegal logging in forest reserves. Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday issued an order temporarily suspending new concessions, and calling for revocation of concessions found to be in breach of the law. According to Radio Free Asia’s report, the decree reads in part:

The government has issued this order to all ministries, institutions, and authorities, at all levels to implement: Temporarily suspend the leasing of land concessions… All ministries, institutions, and authorities must implement the government’s policy regarding land concessions, and they must ensure that land concessions don’t affect communal land or the daily life of the community… Authorities must ensure that land concessions will benefit the country and the people. Those companies that have already received licenses from the government, but have failed to honor their contracts by cutting down the forest instead of developing their concessions, encroached on the land of the people, operated businesses other than for the license granted, abused villagers, or abused communal land will have their contracts revoked.