The EU's top representative in Cambodia on Tuesday denied claims his office was investigating a land dispute between villagers and a rubber plantation, instead saying it was “collecting information” for EU headquarters in the matter.
Earlier media reports said the office was investigating a dispute between the Phnom Penh Sugar Industrial Co., Ltd., and villagers who say they have been kicked off their land.
In a statement, EU Charges d'Affaires Rafael Dochao-Moreno denied an investigation was initiated, but he said, “the EU delegation is collecting information from different sources, and we will inform our headquarters in Brussels on the situation on this issue.”
Phnom Penh Sugar has denied similar reports that it benefits from a preferential EU trade agreement called Anything But Arms, which nixes tariffs on goods from less-developed countries like Cambodia.
“It is unjustified to blame EBA for violations of human rights or land rights,” Dochao-Moreno said. “The EU is always concerned with the full respect of human rights, not only in Cambodia, but in the world, and we believe that questions related to forced evictions need to be dealt with by the Cambodian government.”
EU officials met with rights groups and other representatives of villagers on Friday.