Press Release / Feb. 9, 2014

Cambodian communities submit complaint to World Bank over bankrolling of Vietnamese rubber giant behind land grabs and human rights abuse

Global Witness welcomes and supports a complaint submitted to the International Financial Corporation (IFC) today by Cambodian communities whose lives have been devastated by Vietnamese rubber baron Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL). The IFC – the private lending arm of the World Bank – invests in HAGL, a company responsible for environmental and human rights abuses in their plantations in both Cambodia and Laos.

“Marginalised indigenous communities today demand action from the companies and investors who have taken their land and destroyed their forests,” said Megan MacInnes of Global Witness. “Given the intimidation and human rights abuses that have taken place in and around HAGL’s plantations, this is a brave move which sends a clear message to the IFC that it must stop financing such behaviour.”

The problems associated with HAGL’s rubber plantations were publicised in Global Witness’ report, Rubber Barons. Since then, affected communities in Ratanakiri province, Cambodia, have come together and undertaken an independent assessment which exposes the true breadth of devastation caused by the company.

Global Witness is calling on the IFC to respond to this complaint by bringing HAGL to the table to negotiate a resolution which respects the rights of affected communities and Cambodian law. Last month, the IFC admitted failures in the implementation of its social and environmental policies when approving a $30m (£18.2m) loan to Corporation Dinant, a Honduran palm oil company accused of using violence to deal with land conflicts.

“Today’s move by Cambodian communities increases the pressure for the IFC to be accountable for investments which stand in stark contrast to its public commitments on ethics and sustainability, as well as the World Bank’s core mandate to end global poverty,” said MacInnes. “The Bank must hold its hands up and do everything in its power to ensure that these communities get justice.”


Contact: Oliver Courtney, [email protected] +44 (0)7912 517 147.