IDI has written an open letter to EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, together with nine other Cambodian and European civil society organizations, calling upon the European Commission to investigate escalating human rights abuses in Cambodia resulting from the granting of economic land concessions for agroindustrial development, in connection with goods being exported to the European Union under the Everything But Arms initiative (EBA). The EBA is a preferential trade scheme that allows Cambodia-based firms to export sugar and other goods to the EU without import duties and with a guaranteed minimum price. Among the beneficiaries of these trade preferences are companies implicated in land-grabbing and other human rights abuses.
IDI and partners have been advocating for the EU to conduct an investigation into gross human rights abuses, including forced displacement, linked to agroindustrial firms operating in Cambodia. EU trade regulations call upon the European Commission to conduct an independent investigation if it receives credible information about serious and systematic human rights abuses being committed in beneficiary countries. If the investigation confirms those abuses, the European Commission is required to take precautionary measures to bring the country into compliance with its international obligations. If those measures are unsuccessful, the trade preferences should be temporarily withdrawn until remedial measures are taken to bring the country into compliance.