Two hundred Cambodian families whose land was forcibly seized to make way for a sugar plantation in Cambodia’s Koh Kong province have reached a financial settlement with key sugar industry supply chain actors. The settlement comes following more than a decade of advocacy and legal action in pursuit of justice for communities driven from their land following the 2006 land concessions granted to a Cambodian subsidiary of the Thai sugar firm KSL Group.
Inclusive Development International congratulates the Koh Kong communities on this victory, which marks both a resolution of their long-standing struggle and an important win for the global movement to advance business respect for human rights. It demonstrates that multinational corporations—in this case, major global sugar buyers—can and should contribute to remedy for human rights abuses to which they contributed through irresponsible procurement decisions. Finally, it is a testament to the hard work and tenacity of Cambodian advocacy groups, including Equitable Cambodia and the Community Legal Education Center, and community representatives who have persevered in their quest for justice over the course of so many years.
Inclusive Development International is proud to have supported the campaign for justice for these communities for many years—including through our research linking the UK-based Tate and Lyle Sugars to KSL’s Koh Kong plantation. Our 2013 report with Equitable Cambodia, Bittersweet Harvest, highlighted the role of Tate and Lyle and other European buyers in driving a surge in forced displacement in Cambodia resulting from industrial sugar plantations that were developed to take advantage of preferential trade privileges granted by the European Union. The report helped lay the basis for the years-long Cambodia Clean Sugar Campaign, as well as litigation against Tate and Lyle in the UK related to the land grabs and subsequent use of child labor on the Koh Kong Sugar plantation. The litigation (Song Mao & Ors v (1) Tate & Lyle Sugar Industries, (2) Tate and Lyle Sugars Limited) has since been withdrawn.
A press release from Equitable Cambodia is available here.