Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US House passes B Kak bill

US House passes B Kak bill

Boeung Kak lake land rights activist Yorm Bopha is swarmed by supporters and media at Phnom Penh’s municipal police station late last year after being released on bail.
Boeung Kak lake land rights activist Yorm Bopha is swarmed by supporters and media at Phnom Penh’s municipal police station late last year after being released on bail. Heng Chivoan

US House passes B Kak bill

A draft US law that would require the World Bank to regularly report to congress about the condition of families displaced or still living in the Boeung Kak lake area was approved Wednesday by the House of Representatives.

The bill includes language that specifically requires the World Bank’s executive director to give periodic reports to the US Congress about the bank’s progress in restoring the livelihoods of residents displaced due to failures in the bank-funded Land Management and Administration Project. The bill will now move to the Senate.

“On behalf of the Boeung Kak villagers, we are grateful to the US House of Representatives for deciding to put pressure on the World Bank to urge a solution for our community,” Boeung Kak activist Tep Vanny said last night.

The bill’s approval in the House is a victory for Boeung Kak residents and activists, said Eang Vuthy, executive director of rights group Equitable Cambodia. “This bill is clearly a benefit to … the community,” he said. “I think the US government has the intention to monitor this problem.”

Language in a previous draft version of the bill called for the World Bank to discontinue all funding in Cambodia until people displaced by the project are fully compensated or another amenable solution is reached, Vuthy said.

The World Bank stopped loaning to Cambodia in 2011, after an 18-month investigation into the government’s expulsion of Boeung Kak residents from their homes to make way for a large-scale development project carried out by a company headed by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin.

Communications officer Saroeun Bou said yesterday that the World Bank was currently “undertaking public consultations with stakeholders to inform the development of the planned Interim Strategy Note (ISN) for the future partnership between Cambodia and the World Bank Group”.

In a joint statement released after the bill gained US House approval, David Pred, managing associate of Inclusive Development International, lauded it. “When the Bank’s management scrapped its remedial action plan and stopped reporting to the Board about it, they seemed to have thought they could brush the Boeung Kak case under the carpet and quietly go back to business as usual in Cambodia,” Pred said.

“Now they will need to think twice.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Reuters: US Embassy fired 32 staff members for sharing pornography

    The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh has fired 32 non-diplomatic staff members who were allegedly caught exchanging pornographic images and video, including of minors, according to the news agency Reuters. Four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the content was shared in

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Huge timber haul seized in Kratie raid, suspects sought

    Kratie provincial authorities were searching on Wednesday for the owners of hundreds of cubic metres of first-grade timber found loaded onto seven heavy trucks during a raid on a warehouse in Snuol district. After getting a tip-off, Military Police, police, Forestry Administration and court officials