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2 Apr 2018

Inclusive Development International

Forcibly Displaced Cambodians File Historic Lawsuit against Asia’s Largest Sugar Producer

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Displaced farmers from Cambodia have filed a landmark class-action lawsuit against the Thai sugar giant Mitr Phol.  The legal complaint was filed in a Thai civil court by two plaintiffs representing a class of approximately 3000 people who were violently displaced and dispossessed of their land and livelihoods in five remote villages in northwestern Cambodia to clear the way for a Mitr Pohl sugarcane plantation between 2008 and 2009.  Mitr Phol, the world’s fourth-largest sugar producer, supplies global brands including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and Mars...The suit alleges that Mitr Phol’s operation in Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey province resulted in violent forced evictions, burning of homes, looting of crops and livestock and the seizure of land that was legally held by local farmers.  Forests inside the company’s land concessions that local communities relied upon for their livelihoods were illegally logged.  Those who resisted were threatened, arrested and imprisoned...Landless and unable to make a living, many of the families have become deeply impoverished...[T]he National Human Rights Commission of Thailand found Mitr Phol directly responsible for human rights violations committed in conjunction with its operations in Cambodia...Mitr Phol told the commission that it would compensate affected people in accordance with international standards but has failed to do so.  The legal complaint agues that a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would be in the public interest, because it would make Thai companies more likely to refrain from violating human rights in foreign countries...The Legal Rights and Environmental Protection Lawyers Advocacy Association and the Community Resource Centre Foundation are representing the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit.