The Cambodian government is evicting tens of thousands of poor rural farmers from their land and leasing it to large companies who grow products such as sugarcane for export. Nearly 2/3 of the country's arable land is in the hands of corporations. ISLP is helping 200 subsistence farmers whose land was taken to fight back in court. If successful, their case will represent a groundbreaking approach to seeking justice for rural landholders who are victims of land-grabbing.
In 2006, 200 families in Koh Kong province were forced off their small plots to make way for industrial sugar plantations. Their crops were destroyed and resistors brutally attacked. The villagers insist that they are the lawful possessors of the land. Finding no success in Cambodian courts, ISLP's volunteer lawyers and the Community Legal Education Center helped them to file a claim in UK courts against the two multinational companies that bought all the raw sugar from the villagers' land.
As Cambodian courts are denying any opportunity for justice for victims of endemic State-sponsored land grabs, it has become necessary to take the legal battle outside of the country. The case of the Koh Kong villagers represents a groundbreaking approach-asking that the farmers receive fair compensation for goods produced on their land. All donations will directly support the villagers' lawsuit against two of the world's largest sugar companies.
If successful, this case will establish a strong precedent that could benefit other victims of land-grabbing around the world. When land theft and displacement are linked to export production, small landowners will at last have a path to justice. It will also remind multinational companies doing business in Cambodia-and wherever land-grabbing is prevalent-that they are accountable for their role in the confiscation of land and that farmers deserve and must receive fair compensation.