Video: Bitter Harvest

Equitable Cambodia | December 2023

Bitter Harvest
According to humanitarian organisations, British sugar company Tate & Lyle is knowingly enriching itself off the harvest of stolen land. More than 12,000 Cambodians have been forced off their land, leaving them to suffer through years of destitution. Today, the rightful owners of the sugar harvest are seeking justice.

Communities and civil society organisations have been working for years to highlight human rights abuses related to a massive land grab that occurred because of a government “economic land concession” granted to a large corporation in Koh Kong province more than a decade ago. Hundreds of local farmers lost their farming land to make way for a large-scale commercial sugar plantation. Since then, and with the support of Equitable Cambodia and other human rights focused NGOs, communities have been organizing themselves to resist against the illegal land grabbing, launching various national and international advocacy campaigns seeking both recognition of harms caused and a return of the land. 
A civil suit was launched in 2013 against a sugar manufacturer based in the United Kingdom, Tate and Lyle to find justice for affected local people. During extremely difficult negotiations for a settlement, affected communities included as part of their demands the return of their land from the Thai-owned plantation concessionaire, KSL Group, as well as financial compensation for losses related to lack of access to farming land. In 2015, KSL agreed to a partial land return of 300 hectares to 200 plaintiff households, with negotiations for financial settlement continuing until 2023. Finally, an agreement was reached which provided some financial relief to those families who, because of their land loss, have been shouldering extreme debt, brought about by the predatory “micro-finance” sector. This resolution has set another important precedent for business and human rights cases in Cambodia and around the world.
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