Complaint Against Sugar Cane Land Grabbing Case in Cambodia Accepted
NGOs successfully file a cpomplaint against sugar cane industry
Between 2008 and 2009, over 700 families were forced off their lands to make way for sugar cane plantations of the company Mitrh Pohl Group (Thailand) in the northwest of Cambodia. To this date, no adequate compensation has been provided to the victims who lost their lands and livelihoods. Over the past decade, Civic Engagement partner Equitable Cambodia and its partners have been advocating for justice for these communities.
Mitr Pohl is one of the members of sugar industry’s sustainability certification body Bonsucro and has past and present customers such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo. With the Bonsucro certification, the sugar can be marked and sold as responsibly sourced.
The victims filed a complaint to Bonsucro’s grievance mechanism in 2011, asking the sustainability body to hold its members accountable for the rights abuses they suffered, which they argued also breached Bonsucro’s code of conduct. Despite confirmation of the allegations by the Thai Human Rights Commission, some eight years after the complaint was filed, Bonsurco’s board of directors dismissed the case on the grounds that it did not receive cogent evidence of a breach.
In March 2019, Equitable Cambodia, U.S. organization Inclusive Development International and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) filed a complaint against Bonsucro with the UK National Contact Point for the OECD on behalf of the affected communities. The National Contact Point is a government body that monitors the operations and compliance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinationals of British businesses overseas.
In September 2019, The National Contact Point ruled the complaint admissible. The National Contact Point will now offer the parties an opportunity to mediate. If the parties do not want to mediate or cannot reach an agreement, the National Contact Point will examine further the claim about whether Bonsucro’s actions and policies are consistent with the OECD guidelines.
Important note: ICCO Cooperation and the Civic Engagement Alliance are supporting Equitable Cambodia not in this case, but in another case regarding a rubber company.