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12 Jun 2019

Rina Chandran, Reuters

Cambodia: A Thai civil court hears an inquiry trial of a class action lawsuit filed by Cambodian villagers who have involved in land conflicts with a Thai company

"Cambodian farmers battle in landmark lawsuit against Thai sugar firm", 12 June 2019

… As a young woman living in Cambodia’s northwest Oddar Meanchey province, Hoy Mai witnessed some of the fiercest fighting and atrocities during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Two decades on she is preparing for a different and landmark battle, one against Thai sugar company Mitr Phol that she accuses of violently forcing her family off their land and burning their home to make way for plantations.

The lawsuit against Asia’s largest sugar producer, filed on behalf of about 3,000 people, is the first class-action lawsuit filed in a Thai court by plaintiffs from another country against a Thai company operating outside Thailand…

A spokeswoman for Mitr Phol told … she could not comment on an ongoing legal matter… In the case of Mitr Phol, some 9,430 hectares (about 36 square miles) of land was given to the company in 2008 and 2009, affecting 26 villages, lawyers estimate.

The NHRC said human rights violations had occurred, and Mitr Phol was responsible. It asked the firm to pay compensation in line with U.N. guiding principles on business and human rights.

In response to NHRC’s recommendations on the Mitr Phol case, the Thai cabinet issued resolutions in 2016 and 2017, asking Thai investors to respect and protect rights of local people, and avoid adverse impacts on the environment and to livelihoods.

… But in the case of Mitr Phol, farmers did not get compensation and only about half the affected households got back land they had lost, said Eang Vuthy, executive director of human rights group Equitable Cambodia…