A landmark agreement between Vietnamese plantation firm Hoanh Anh Gia Lai and three indigenous communities in Ratanakkiri was reached yesterday, prompting hope for an amicable conclusion to the years-long dispute.
Over Tuesday and Wednesday, the communities from the villages of Ket, Nay and Kachout held talks in Siem Reap town with NGOs, the firm and its subsidiaries.
The meeting was facilitated by the compliance adviser ombudsman of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which has been carrying out an audit of the firms’ operations after allegations of abuses.
Hoanh Anh Gia Lai, better known as HAGL, received investment from Dragon Capital, part-owned by the IFC.
A letter signed by HAGL CEO Vo Truong Son dated September 7 laid out the deal, which promised an end to encroachment on villagers’ land, clear demarcation of the villages and a prohibition against illegal fishing in the firm’s economic land concessions.
While these three villages have not been in direct dispute with HAGL and tougher disputes remain to be addressed, Eang Vuthy of Equitable Cambodia called the move a “good step forward”.