New reports from eastern Cambodia say a Vietnamese rubber company has illegally cleared swaths of land in Ratanakiri province belonging to local indigenous communities, in violation of a World Bank-mediated agreement to return the land to local residents.
The agribusiness company, Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), pledged in 2015 to return land within its rubber concessions to local communities. But as residents have sheltered at home due to COVID-19, the company has cleared much of the land, bulldozing sacred sites known as spirit mountains, burial grounds, traditional hunting areas, wetlands and old-growth forests.
According to some human rights lawyers, land concessions in Cambodia have displaced around 770,000 people since the early 2000s. This displacement has made land tenure a critical issue for people across the country.