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New OECD Guidelines case against ANZ for its role in displacing & dispossessing Cambodian families

Oct 10, 2014

Equitable Cambodia (EC) and Inclusive Development International (IDI) filed a complaint on behalf of 681 affected families who were forcibly displaced and dispossessed of their land, productive resources and in some cases houses, to make way for a Phnom Penh Sugar Co. Ltd. (PPS) sugar plantation and refinery that was partially financed by ANZ.

In addition to forced evictions, military-backed land seizures and destruction of crops and property, PPS also allegedly participated in arbitrary arrests and intimidation of villagers, and the widespread use of child labour and dangerous working conditions that have resulted in several worker deaths. Although these abuses occurred between 2010 and 2011 the affected households remain either uncompensated or undercompensated for their losses.

The complaint alleges ANZ has breached the OECD Guidelines by contributing to these abuses through their actions and omissions, and failing to take reasonable measures to prevent or remedy them. EC, IDI and community representatives have raised the problems associated with the PPS loan with ANZ on numerous occasions since becoming aware of ANZ’s role and the case received much public attention prior to ANZ’s loan decision. Despite this controversy, ANZ proceeded with the loan to PPS.

Even though ANZ has reportedly ended the financial relationship with PPS in 2014, the complainants believe that ANZ can and should divest itself of the profits that it earned unjustly from the PPS. EC and IDI argue in the complaint that ANZ contributed directly to PPS’ illegal actions and profited from those actions, so it has an ongoing responsibility to provide reparations to those affected. The complainants furthermore urge the NCP to recommend that ANZ develop a corporate-level human rights compliant policy on involuntary land acquisition and resettlement, including relevant due diligence procedures, in order to address other similar problems in its portfolio and to ensure that ANZ does not continue to contribute to such human rights violations elsewhere.


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