Cambodia returns land taken from indigenous people in ‘unprecedented’ move

Cambodia has returned land taken a decade ago from indigenous communities for a Vietnamese company’s rubber plantation, a sign that foreign investors are facing greater scrutiny over rights violations, analysts said on Wednesday.

The governor of the northeastern province of Ratanakari on Tuesday asked the agriculture ministry to take out 64 areas from the land concessions, including forests, wetlands and burial grounds that belonged to a dozen indigenous communities.

The decision “represents an unprecedented recognition of indigenous land rights over business interests in Cambodia,” said Dam Chanty, executive director of Highlanders Association, an indigenous rights organisation in Ratanakari.

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