Cambodia: Micro-Loan Borrowers Face Covid-19 Crisis

Suspend Debt Collection, Stop Coerced Land Sales.

Debt relief measures by micro-loan providers in Cambodia are failing to alleviate the serious financial burdens on indebted families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Human Rights Watch said today. Indebted families risk having to sell land and housing they depend on to survive.

The Cambodian government and the National Bank of Cambodia should urgently suspend debt collection and interest accruals for micro-loan borrowers who are no longer able to meet their debt payments due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government’s response has been insufficient to protect borrowers and violates their rights to an adequate standard of living, notably access to adequate housing. The micro-loan providers are likewise failing in their human rights responsibilities to borrowers.

“Many Cambodians fear losing their land more than catching the coronavirus because they can’t pay back their loans and the government has done little to help them,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The Cambodian government should immediately order a freeze on debt collection and interest accruals of those harmed by the pandemic, and hold financial institutions that fail to comply accountable.”

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