The microfinance debt crisis that is crushing Cambodia

have spent most of my adult life working on land rights in Cambodia, and I have never encountered a threat to land rights as pervasive and potentially catastrophic as the current microfinance crisis.

For more than 20 years, the human rights organization I lead has documented widespread and systematic land-grabbing in the country. These land grabs were mostly cases in which the state helped politically connected tycoons and foreign companies to rob hundreds of thousands of Cambodians of their land.

At the height of this crisis in 2008, we documented more than 16,000 households newly affected by land grabs in a single year. This wave of dispossession was recognized in an open letter to the International Criminal Court in March co-authored by the International Federation for Human Rights, Global Witness, and the Climate Counsel urging the prosecution of land grabbing crimes.

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