Cambodian Bank Demands ‘Action’ Against NGOs Who Say Workers Need Debt Relief

Cambodia’s ACLEDA Bank accused three nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) of defamation on Thursday and urged the government to “take action” against them after they issued a report calling for debt relief for workers, who are struggling to repay their loans after losing jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Late last month, Licadho, the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), and the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) issued a joint briefing paper entitled “Worked to Debt,” which said that tens of thousands of garment workers will struggle to repay microfinance debts during work stoppages and factory suspensions caused by the outbreak.

The groups said the situation is “creating a mounting human rights crisis” and warned that without relief from debts owed to microfinance institutions (MFIs), many of the workers will resort to selling their land or homes, eating less food, or taking out even more loans to repay what they borrowed.

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