Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Recertification of rubber firm is ‘cause for concern’




Recertification of rubber firm is ‘cause for concern’

Villagers walk through cleared forest inside an economic land concession in Ratanakkiri
Villagers walk through cleared forest inside an economic land concession in Ratanakkiri last year. GLOBAL WITNESS

Recertification of rubber firm is ‘cause for concern’

Investigative rights group Global Witness has lodged a complaint with an international forest management body after it recertified the Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) last week despite outstanding allegations that the company is driving a wave of land and forest grabs in Cambodia.

The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) suspended VRG’s certification – which is intended to provide buyers with assurances that the company’s products meet environmental and social standards – in November 2013 after a report by Global Witness that raised allegations of land grabbing and illegal logging by VRG.

According to the FSC certifying body, Control Union, VRG has not offered substantial evidence to counter the claims in Global Witness’s report, "Rubber Barons", which alleged that VRG’s subsidiaries were illegally clearing forest containing protected species of timber and taking indigenous people’s land without consent.

“Given the outstanding allegations, it is shocking that the FSC has done a U-turn on VRG’s certification. This case highlights major concerns within the FSC,” Global Witness campaigner Ali Hines said in a statement.

But VRG country representative Leng Rithy said the FSC had evaluated the company’s plantations in Cambodia – covering an area about the size of London – this year and found no evidence of wrongdoing.

“We did not do anything to harm people, instead we built roads, schools, pagodas and brought electricity,” he said. “We came to invest in Cambodia because we saw that people did not use the land.… After they [FSC] investigated, [they found] we did not abuse the people.”

VRG recently said it would receive and investigate complaints by affected communities, a pledge Global Witness said was “positive”.

But, Hines told the Post, “Global Witness has continued to monitor the impacts on the ground of VRG’s rubber plantations and found that problems around illegal logging and the grabbing of community land persist," adding that the concerns are “well documented and urgently need to be addressed”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Man Covid-19 positive after Thailand trip

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday reported the third Covid-19 case in less than two weeks, bringing the total to 125. The man, a 26-year-old from Tbong Khmum province's Tbong Khmum district, arrived at the O'Beichoan border checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province on Thursday. He is

  • Kingdom's GDP growth to narrow -1% to -2.9%, World Bank says

    The World Bank expects further recoil on Cambodia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to between minus one per cent and minus 2.9 per cent for 2020 as its main growth drivers – tourism, manufacturing exports and construction – take a beating due to Covid-19, its latest economic update

  • Vietnam: Tougher sentences for child abusers

    Several National Assembly (NA) deputies in Vietnam are calling for tougher penalties to be handed down to child abusers. They hope stricter punishments will act as a strong deterrent to prevent offenders committing further offences in the future. Extreme measures such as chemical castration were

  • Central bank to shun small US banknotes

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is considering not accepting smaller denominated US dollar banknotes – $1, $2 and $5 – from banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) which it said are flooding its stockpile as the demand for those notes is low. While some banking insiders welcomed the move as

  • PM lauded in Covid-19 fight

    World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen thanking him for following the WHO’s guidance and commending Cambodia’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19. In his letter made public by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Workers return, hope for salaries

    More than 600 factory workers in the capital’s Chaom Chao commune in Por Sen Chey district returned to work after the factory’s owner promised to pay their salaries in instalments until the middle of next month. On Tuesday and Wednesday, more than 600 workers gathered