Cambodia: Socfin-KCD rubber plantations allegedly displace indigenous peoples & aggravate poverty, according to FIDH report

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2 October 2019

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

"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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13 February 2019

Cambodia: French embassy denies visas for eleven people to attend a court hearing related to a complaint with a company in France

Author: Kimmarita Long, The Phnom Penh Post

"Ethnic group ‘disappointed’ to be denied French visas to attend court", 13 February 2019

A press release said the 11 included a lawyer, a translator and nine representatives of the indigenous group, totaling 114 people…

The group took legal action against Bollore, a firm that funded Socfin-KCD, last year.

The communities filed a civil action lawsuit to claim damages and demand compensation from Socfin-KCD, which received loans from Bollore, which has operated a rubber plantation in Mondulkiri province since 2008…

…, a French court issued a summons inviting the nine members of the indigenous community behind the lawsuit to appear at the court hearing in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, …

Tola said the French embassy denied the visa applications.

… “I hope the French Embassy in Phnom Penh holds human rights in high regard, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and reconsider their decision to reject our visa applications for the next date set by the [French] judge,” he said.

Mathilde Teruya, a political and press counsellor at the French embassy, said … that the visa applications submitted did not comply with EU Schengen regulations. “Their presence at the tribunal wasn’t compulsory at this stage of the trial,” Teruya said…

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Author: Novethic

Au Cambodge, les plantations développent à vitesse grand V, dopées par l’octroi de baux extrêmement avantageux pour les entreprises. Et beaucoup moins pour les populations locales..."il s’agit de contrats opaques qui donnent souvent lieu à corruption", dénonce Geneviève Paul, chargée de mission pour la Fédération internationale des droits de l’homme. Mais aussi à de nombreux conflits fonciers, notamment avec les communautés autochtones...Socfinasia, une...filiale du groupe Bolloré s’est alliée en 2007 avec une entreprise cambodgienne, la KCD (Khaou Chuly Development), pour développer une plantation d’hévéa...En 2008, les paysans affectés se sont ainsi rebellés contre l’entreprise...La fédération y dénonce une violation du droit des populations autochtones à la propriété collective, des irrégularités dans le processus d’approbation..., des expulsions forcées, l’absence de véritable consultation et de compensation adéquates, la mise en péril des moyens de subsistance et des droits culturels...Contacté par Novethic, le directeur général de la Socfin KCD, Patrick Lemaitre, "réfute fermement toutes les allégations figurant dans le rapport FIDH et plus particulièrement les évictions forcées, les compensations sans choix, inadéquates, injustes et non conformes aux standards internationaux, la destruction de forêts sacrées et de cimetières et les conditions de travail précaires pour les travailleurs " et estime que "la fragilisation des conditions de vie des Bunongs mériterait une étude socio économique spécifique plus approfondie et sérieuse ".

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6 October 2011

[PDF] Cambodia: Land cleared for rubber rights bulldozed: The impact of rubber plantations by Socfin-KCD on indigenous communities in Bousra, Mondulkiri

Author: Intl. Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Over the past years, [Economic land concessions] have dramatically increased in Cambodia and are the subject of severe criticisms by civil society organisations and international organisations for fuelling human rights abuses, for leading to the deprivation of vital sources of livelihoods for communities and for aggravating poverty...Socfin-KCD [joint venture Socfinasia and KCD] now manages two concessions in the village of Bousra...Socfin-KCD has failed to comply with its responsibility to respect human rights. Given the Cambodian political context, and the high level of corruption, Socfin-KCD could not ignore the context in which they operate and should therefore have conducted due diligence processes to adequately assess potential adverse risks their operations may cause. [also refers to Bolloré]

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