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Regional Networking 

2014-12-19 - CLEC


A regional networking is one of activities of community empowerment project of the Land and Natural Resources Unit of the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC).

In December 2011, CLEC team was invited to join the international/regional meeting on Human Rights and Agribusiness in Southeast Asia. The meeting stressed plural legal approaches to conflict resolution, institution strengthening and legal reform in Human Rights and Agribusiness sectors. The meeting was organized by Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (KOMNASHAM) and Forest People Program (FPP). In that time, CLEC presented two cases, Kang Yu case and Koh Kong Sugarcane case. There were 58 participants from national human rights institutions of the Southeast Asian region, notable academics, representatives of indigenous peoples, as well as members of supportive national and international NGOS. The meeting focused on the challenges of ensuring respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and rural communities in the context of a rapid expansion of agribusiness, notably the palm oil sector, while recognizing the rights to development and the need to improve the welfare and situation of indigenous peoples and rural communities. As the result of the meeting produced a legal papers called the Bali Declaration as it was attached. As benefit from the meeting either, in 2012, CLEC received cooperation from regional NGO names The Samdhana Institute supported a small grant to help Kong Yu villagers' livelihood. The Samdhana Institute staff was interested in the presentation of Kang Yu case in the meeting in Bali, Indonesia. The small grant was given through CLEC to a local indigenous organization which located in Ratanakiri to run a livelihood project. The organization is Indigenous people for Agriculture Development in Cambodia (IADC).

In October 2012, the follow up workshop to make the Bali declaration effective was held in Phnom Penh, hosted by the Community Legal Education Center, convened by the Indonesian Human Rights Commission Komnas HAM, with the support of Forest Peoples Programme and Sawit Watch. The workshop had 31 participants from Asian National Human Rights Institutions from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Myanmar and South Korea and supportive civil society organization. In the beginning of the workshop, there was a field visit for most participants to meet with more than 200 affected villagers by the Koh Kong companies (shareholders between KSL and Vewong) in Sre Ambel district, Koh Kong province. The workshop released a Statement of the Phnom Penh Workshop on Human Rights and Agribusiness in Southeast Asia. The statement also highlighted specific actions on Koh Kong Sugarcane case as the following:

"We are especially concerned that despite concerted efforts to resolve these problems through appeals to the Cambodian Government and the companies involved, the filing of a case in the civil court of Cambodia, further appeals to the Thai Human Rights Commission, the European Commission and BonSucro, this critical situation remains unresolved;

We note moreover that the affected communities have insisted that the remedy they seek is not just cash compensation but the return of their lands as, they told us, we need our lands like fish need water."

In view of the above, we therefore call for the following actions:

In order to remedy the dire situation of the communities of Koh Kong in Sre Ambel district affected by the sugar estates and associated mill, we call on:
  • the Cambodian Government to review the concession agreement regarding Order number one, dated 7th May 2012, and recognize the people's rights stipulated in the Constitution and the 2001 Land Law;
  • KSL of Thailand and Ve Wong of Taiwan to return the land to the communities;
  • Tate and Lyle of the UK and the American Sugar Refining Company of the USA to investigate in the field this situation of human rights violations and suspend purchases of sugar from the estates until the situation is resolved;
  • European Union to also investigate on the ground this situation and in the light of the findings review its tax exemption on imports of sugar from Cambodia under its 'Everything but Arms Programme'.

More information of the statement, please see the resources download below.

In August 2013, CLEC team was attended the workshop of Human Rights and Agribusiness in Southeast Asia. There were 64 participants from South East Asian National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Timor Leste and Myanmar and from supportive civil society organisations from these countries as well as Cambodia attended the workshop which was held in BangKok, Thailand, in purpose to develop an action plan for the effective observance of human rights in the agribusiness sector. The meeting was convened by the Thai Human Rights Commission, with the support of the Forest Peoples Programme and the Rights and Resources Initiative.

The workshop resulted to release a resolution called MONTIEN RESOLUTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND AGRIBUSINESS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA. The resolution drew out the requirement of some countries in Asian have to consider establishing an independent Human Rights commission, such as Cambodia. A resolution stated "In accord with the Paris Principles, we call on Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Vietnam and Cambodia to establish their own independent National Human Rights Commissions, in line with international standards. Likewise, we encourage countries in South East Asia that have established NHRIs to provide these with adequate budgets and strong mandates to monitor and enforce the observance of human rights in their respective countries."
More information of the statement, please see the resources download below.

In November 2014, CLEC team was invited to attend the fourth workshop of Human Rights and Agribusiness in Yangon, Myanma. The 65 participants of this workshop drawn from the South East Asian National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF) and from supportive civil society organisations, including from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand to met to consider ways of ensuring State and Non-State actors respect, protect and remedy human rights in the agribusiness sector. The meeting was convened by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC), with the support of the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), RECOFTC-The Center for People and Forests and the Rights and Resources Initiative. During the workshop, CLEC team also updated current situation of Koh Kong sugarcane case to those participants. The meeting discussed current trends in human rights enforcement mechanisms, citing the Thai Human Rights commission, which focus on enforcing laws currently existing in most countries in the ASEAN region which are not being enforced properly. Finally, participants from the Philippines noted their interest in hosting the next meeting, subject to formal endorsement by Philippines National Human Rights Commission. It was suggested that the meeting should directly involve agribusinesses and review concrete cases where efforts are being made to ensure that businesses respect human rights.
More information of the statement, please see the resources download below.

Resources download: