Opinion

Smit Tit v. Mitr Phol: Ensuring Access to Remedies Against Land Grabbing by Transnational Corporations

On 31st July, the Bangkok South Civil Court admitted a petition by 700 farmers from Cambodia, whose land was grabbed by Mitr Phol, a giant sugar company based out of Thailand. In 2008-09, Mitr Phol’s subsidiaries leased land under concession from the Cambodian government. These lands belonged to the Cambodian farmers, who were forcibly evicted by the company and Cambodian government. As per the then UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia, the company “hired armed forces and security guards to set up check points and restrict the use of roads”. This case is the first of its kind in Asia, paralleled in the west by precedents like Vedanta, which was sued in the UK for violations in Zambia. In this post, I will first, detail how the natives are permanently disenfranchised during the process of land grabbing in fragile countries; second, critically look at the defence presented by Mitr Phol; and lastly, display the importance of this judgement.

Long-term concessionary leasing of land by countries in the global south was promoted by the World Bank and the UN as a “win-win” situation. It was argued that fallow land cannot be developed without import of capital from the north. With the support of these institutions, the political elite in countries like Cambodia went about implementing leasing policies, which generally extend to 99 years. However, fair leasing can take place only when there are clear property rights in place.

In full: https://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/12/08/2020/smit-tit-v-mitr-phol-ensuring-access-remedies-against-land-grabbing-transnational

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