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Investment Projects and Land Concessions 

2013-04-12 - CLEC

CCHR, CLEC and the NGO Forum on Cambodia release a Mini-Report following the Roundtable Discussion on "Investment Projects and Land Concessions" held on 29 March 2013, during which the new General Manager of Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co Ltd announced the return of disputed land.

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights ("CCHR"), along with the Community Legal Education Center ("CLEC") and the NGO Forum on Cambodia, have released a Mini-Report regarding the recent roundtable discussion on "Investment Projects and Land Concessions", which the three organizations co-hosted. The event was attended by 36 participants, and aimed to give community representatives the opportunity to raise their concerns regarding the impact of investment projects on their livelihoods and local communities, and for company, political party and local authority representatives to engage in dialogue with these representatives and to allow them to explain their views and policies on investment projects in the region. 

During these discussions, the new General Manager ("GM") of Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co Ltd ("the Company"), Mr. Thanakorn Borintarachart, stated that the Company will return all disputed land that it has seized land to villagers who have been legal possessors, at Chikhor Leu commune, Sre Ambel district, in Koh Kong province. He announced that he would assume personal responsibility to resolve a continuing land dispute that began in 2006 between local residents of Koh Kong province and the Company, stating that the Company will offer the disputed land back to the villagers. He also called on the Government and the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests ("MAFF") to find alternative land for the Company.

Villagers maintain that they are the legal owners of the disputed land, which measures 1,364 hectares and spans three villages, which the Company has used since 2006 following Economic Land Concessions granted by the Government. Since this dispute transpired, the residents have regularly complained to numerous authorities and organizations - both inside Cambodia and internationally - regarding the matter, claiming that the Company has not followed due legal process in its claim to the land and has forcefully evicted residents from their homes, resulting in impoverishment, malnutrition and other violations of their basic human rights. 

We are pleased to see that the Company has pledged to seek a peaceful resolution to the ongoing dispute, and hope that this might set a new precedent for the Company's future relationships with other communities that it may come into conflict with.


In response to this case, CCHR President Ou Virak comments:

"The success of these roundtable discussions, or any peaceful forum, is dependent upon the willingness of the companies involved in investment projects to participate in meaningful debate with the communities who are feeling the impact of the projects. It was encouraging to see that the General Manager of Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co Ltd recognizes the urgent need to resolve these land conflicts in a peaceful way; if the Company does indeed return the disputed land to the Koh Kong villagers as he has pledged to do, his actions will set a very important example to other companies investing in the region."

For more information, please contact:

1. Mr. Ou Virak, CCHR's President Telephone: +855 (0) 1240 4051, e-mail:ouvirak@cchrcambodia.org
2. Mr. Chum Narin, Unit Head of CLEC's Land and Natural Resource Program Telephone: +855 (0) 066 777 008, e-mail:narin@clec.org.kh
3. Mr. Phann Sithan, Land and Livelihoods Program Manager of NGO Forum on Cambodia Telephone: +855 (0) 77 717 797, e-mail:sithan@ngoforum.org.kh

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