Lands Grabs and Other Destructive Environmental Practices in Cambodia Test the International Criminal Court

Five years ago, the ICC’s prosecutor said she would consider environmental crimes. Now, environmentalists and human rights activists want her to deliver.

Three leading climate and human rights nonprofits have asked the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague to pursue rampant “land grabbing” by the government of Cambodia and its commerce partners as a crime against humanity under the court’s jurisdiction.

In an open letter to Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Tuesday, Global Witness, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Climate Counsel said that, since 2002, at least 830,000 Cambodians have been affected, many illegally forced off their land, by the government and various corporations involved in timber and other resource extraction activities.

“The Cambodia situation offers a unique opportunity for the ICC to engage with the single greatest threat facing humankind—the climate and environmental emergency,” the letter said. “In many countries around the world, land grabbing is the harbinger for illegal resource exploitation, persecution of indigenous people, and environmental destruction.”

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