"Cambodia Clean Sugar" campaign - company responses & non-responses
In June-July 2012, a group of affected communities and NGOs launched a campaign aiming to "stop the sugar industry from bleeding Cambodian farmers by taking their land". It stated that the sugarcane concessions "have led to the destruction of protected forests, the pollution of water sources, and the forced displacement and dispossession of hundreds of families... Crops have been razed. Animals have been shot. Homes have been burned to the ground. Thousands of people have been left destitute. Some have been thrown in jail for daring to protest." It called on both companies producing the sugar in Cambodia and companies that have purchased sugar from these producers "to provide restitution to those who have lost their land, homes and livelihoods to make way for their plantations".
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the five companies named to respond to the following items:
- "Landless Cambodians see nothing sweet in EU sugar deal", AFP, 3 Jul 2012
- "Tales of ‘blood-stained’ sugar", Phnom Penh Post, 4 Jul 2012
- "Stop the sugar industry from bleeding Cambodian farmers by taking their land", Cambodia Clean Sugar Campaign, 3 Jul 2012
- "Taste and Smile?" [video], Cambodia Clean Sugar Campaign, 26 Jun 2012:
- American Sugar Refining/Domino Sugar did not respond
- Khon Kaen Sugar (part of KSL Group) did not respond
- Mitr Phol Group response [DOC]
- Tate & Lyle declined to respond
- Ve Wong response [DOC]
- [Chinese version] 味王公司的回應
August 2012 update
On 14 August 2012, the Clean Sugar Campaign issued its “Response to the Ve Wong Corporation”, which welcomed Ve Wong’s statement that “if there is any evidence proving that Koh Kong Plantation Co Ltd. and Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co. Ltd. illegally acquired the land from residents, the companies are willing to return [the land] and compensate all relocation costs of all affected families.” On the other hand, the statement also detailed that “illegal land seizures, forced evictions and other human rights violations and criminal acts…have been substantiated by numerous third parties.” This also includes preliminary findings from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) dated 25 July 2012, which concluded that “human rights principles and instruments were breached in this case, and that the Thai parent company is involved in the operations…”
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the two companies named to respond to the statement:
- Khon Kaen Sugar (part of KSL Group)did not respond
- Ve Wong responded that it had communicated with its subsidiary in Cambodia, but the subsidiary had not yet replied to them.
October 2012 update
On 31 October 2012, Cambodian villagers - represented by NGOs Community Legal Education Center of Cambodia (CLEC) and EarthRights International (ERI) - filed a complaint with the US National Contact Point (NCP) alleging land seizure for sugar plantation supplying American Sugar Refining breached OECD guidelines.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited American Sugar Refining/Domino Sugar to respond - the company did not do so.
Cambodians file complaint with US government vs American Sugar Refining over ‘land-grabbing’ deal
Elaine Watson, Food Navigator USA, 2 Nov 2012
New twist in Cambodian sugar firm saga
Rachel Will, Phnom Penh Post (Cambodia), 16 Aug 2012
Villagers offered $2,000 to withdraw complaints against sugar plantation
Kuch Naren, Cambodian Daily, 8 Aug 2012
Court to hear case today against Koh Kong Sugar filed by villagers alleging it illegally bulldozed their farmland
Chhay Channyda, Phnom Penh Post (Cambodia), 25 Jul 2012
Kho Kaen Sugar operations in Cambodia "breached right to life & self-determination" of local villagers - National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, 25 Jul 2012
April 2013 update
Following a Roundtable Discussion on “Investment Projects and Land Concessions”, held on 29 March 2013, the new General Manager of Koh Kong Sugar Industry announced the company will return the disputed land to villagers.
[PDF] Joint Press Release, Cambodian Center for Human Rights, NGO Forum on Cambodia, Community Legal Education Center, 12 Apr 2013