Cambodia: 602 families accuse Mitr Phol Sugar of land confiscation, livestock killing & crop looting in complaint filed with Thai National Human Rights Commission

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Article
12 June 2019

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

Author: Rina Chandran, Reuters

"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…

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Article
14 August 2014

Cambodia: Thai Human Rights Commissioner backs villagers’ claims of land confiscation, other abuses by Mitr Phol Sugar

Author: Zsombor Peter, Cambodia Daily

“Thai Human Rights Body Says Plantations Stole Land”, 14 August 2014

The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand…corroborated claims that a Thai sugar company that supplied Coca-Cola has illegally taken land off of villagers in Oddar Meanchey province and violated their human rights, more than a year after the communities filed their complaint with the commission...After a two-day visit to the affected communities this week, Thai human rights commissioner Niran Phitakwatchara said…that he backed the claims against Mitr Phol…In comments it sent in 2012 to Business and Human Rights Resource Center…Mitr Phol said it did not support encroachment on private land or destruction of private property…Late last year, amid mounting pressure from NGOs to clean up its supply chain, Coca-Cola revealed that Mitr Phol was one of its three main global sugar suppliers and announced the launch of an international investigation into the allegations of land grabbing by it and other firms. Coca-Cola sent a team to Cambodia in February to investigate its suppliers here but has yet to release its findings…

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Company response
9 July 2013

Response by Mitr Phol: 602 families accuse Mitr Phol Sugar of land confiscation, livestock killing & crop looting in complaint filed with Thai National Human Rights Commission. Click here

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Article
3 June 2013

Second Sugar Firm Taken to Thai Human Rights Commission [Cambodia]

Author: Zsombor Peter, Aun Pheap, Cambodia Daily

Local rights groups have filed a complaint in Bangkok against a second Thai sugar firm with ties to business tycoon Ly Yong Phat accused of stealing homes and land from hundreds of poor farmers. Licadho and Equitable Cambodia filed the complaint with the Thai government’s National Human Rights Commission…against Mitr Pohl on behalf of 602 families in Oddar Meanchey province, who say the firm’s three plantations allegedly forced them out of their homes and off their land…The rights groups also accuse the plantations of killing their livestock and looting their crops. The police and military police are accused of beating some of the farmers and threatening them with violence or arrest…[refers to Khon Kaen Suger & Tate & Lyle; Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Mitr Phol Sugar to respond. Mitr Phol Sugar referred us to its previous response to Business & Human Rights Resource Centre dated 24 Jul 2012, provided.]

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Company response
24 July 2012

Mitr Phol Group response to alleged human rights abuses and seizure of land by sugar companies in Cambodia

Author: Mitr Phol Group

…Mitr Phol does not support encroachment on private land or forced eviction, or the destruction of private property. In Cambodia, we initially sought out sparsely populated areas and have followed a land concession process prescribed by law. This process has been led by the local and national government officials and its principles are also reflected in project agreements with government authorities. Our understanding of this process is that authorized officials undertook land surveys within a larger identified area…Public consultation followed between officials and locals…to demarcate areas and agree on existing land ownership, to determine compensation offers for any private land identified that included financial payment and substitute land provided by officials. Mitr Phol was excluded from this process and was not a participant, but by agreement was responsible for the expenses incurred from this process…

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