Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs discuss sugar settlement concerns

NGOs discuss sugar settlement concerns

CHRAC secretary-general Suon Bunsak, Sim Sitha, Chan Vichet and Sao Seny at a compensation meeting on April 10 in Kampong Speu. Photo supplied
CHRAC secretary-general Suon Bunsak (centre) attends a compensation meeting on April 10 in Kampong Speu. Photo supplied

NGOs discuss sugar settlement concerns

Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) staff held a meeting yesterday in the absence of their secretary-general, Suon Bunsak, to discuss how to respond to concerns about Bunsak’s approval of a settlement between hundreds of evicted Kampong Speu villagers and Phnom Penh Sugar.

Compensation recipients, community leaders and NGOs claimed that the company, owned by tycoon and ruling party Senator Ly Yong Phat, obtained the settlement agreements in a climate of bullying and coercion, and only after co-opting certain community representatives, former NGO employees and Bunsak. Most recipients received only $500.

CHRAC secretary Leng Pich confirmed the meeting took place, adding that a further internal meeting with Bunsak present was planned, as well as another with members of CHRAC’s steering committee. He said Bunsak had a scheduling conflict during the initial meeting.

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), a donor to CHRAC, is currently assessing its relationship with the NGO, according to NPA country director Aksel Steen-Nilsen. He insisted that such assessments were an ongoing part of NPA’s relationship with its partners, but conceded that this one was taking place under unusual circumstances.

“What’s a bit special here is how did CHRAC suddenly get involved in this case,” Steen-Nilsen said, echoing concerns from Heinrich Boll Foundation country director Ali al-Nasani over CHRAC and Equitable Cambodia being involved separately on the same land dispute.

Former CHRAC donor USAID is also clarifying what has taken place by forwarding the allegations to its Office of the Inspector General, according to US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman.

NGOs also met with EU ambassador George Edgar yesterday. Equitable Cambodia executive director Eang Vuthy said he briefed Edgar on the situation in Kampong Speu among other issues. Edgar confirmed the briefing, but declined to comment further.

Bunsak could not be reached for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • School reopening can’t wait

    With the Covid-19 pandemic now well into its second year, safely reopening schools has become an urgent priority. School attendance is critical for children’s education and lifetime prospects. The long-term costs of closures – both for individual children and society – are simply too large to

  • Kingdom set to be a gold producer

    Cambodia will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commencement of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21. Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of