Displacement and dispossession as big business breaks the law, states new report published 11 May 2015.
Around 1,000 people have been forcibly evicted and 10,000 affected by land grabs in Cambodia as a result of land concessions to three sugar companies, according to research from ActionAid and Oxfam.
In 2008, Angkor Sugar Company, Cambodia Cane and Sugar Valley Company and Tonle Sugar Cane Company were awarded nearly 20,000 hectares of Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) in Oddar Meanchey province.
The report, Cambodia: The Bitter Taste of Sugar finds that the resulting land grabbing totaling more than 17,000 hectares has affected more than 2,000 families. Of these, 214 families were forcibly evicted.
In addition, at least 3,000 hectares of the misappropriated land has been used for logging rather than sugar plantations.
Since 2000, the Royal Government of Cambodia has granted more than 114,000 hectares of land through 19 such sugar concessions. Many of these focus on exports under the European Union’s ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) preferential trade scheme.
“Big business cannot continue to ignore the rights of Cambodian people,” said Caroline McCausland, Country Director of ActionAid Cambodia. “Despite the freeze on Economic Land Concessions, cases like this illustrate the damage that is still being done under the policy.”
“We call upon the Royal Government of Cambodia to investigate thoroughly and hold the companies to account for breaching at least four national laws and sub-decrees,” added Ms. McCausland. “These families are entitled to restitution. They should receive adequate compensation, and their land titles should be restored.”
“To prevent further abuses, the EU and the Royal Government of Cambodia should both examine alternative agricultural investment models. Cambodians are owed the food security and rural development that Economic Land Concessions were supposed to bring,” concluded Ms. McCausland.
The report was launched on 11 May 2015 at MetaHouse in Phnom Penh
For more information contact Caroline McCausland, Country Director, ActionAid Cambodia