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Cambodia: Nine representatives of Bunong indigenous communities attend a hearing in French court over land disputes with company

Author: Long Kimmarita, The Phnom Penh Post, Published on: 2 October 2019

"Bunong group attends French court hearing over land dispute", 1 October 2019

Nine representatives of the Bunong indigenous communities in Mondulkiri province who claimed to have fallen victim to a development project by French firm Socfin-KCD appeared for questioning at the Tribunal of Nanterre in France ...

The group, from seven villages in Pech Chreada district’s Bou Sra commune, filed a lawsuit at a French court last year to claim damages and demand compensation from Bollore, a firm that funded Socfin-KCD.

They said they were under threat of losing their land, traditions and customs since the arrival of Socfin-KCD, which had received loans from Bollore to operate a rubber plantation in Mondulkiri since 2008.

They claim the existence of the plantation affected the ethnic group’s homes, land and sacred locations…

Bou Sra commune representative Kroeung Tola … told … that the Bunong indigenous communities sued the company in a French court after they had lost hope of obtaining justice in Cambodia.

“We have tried all means [in seeking a solution] from the local authorities and the court in Cambodia, but there had been no acceptable response.

“I believe the French court will offer us justice as we have enough evidence to present to the judges,” he said.

... Bollore said after the complaint was lodged last year that it had never known the nine representatives.

Vann Sophat, a project coordinator for the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), said although the hearing was held to decide whether the French court had jurisdiction over the case, he hoped the court would eventually find a compromise to end the dispute…

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Related companies: Bolloré Socfin