Secrecy over the details of Cambodia’s recent land deals with Kuwait and Qatar are sparking debate as officials express concern over the possible implications of the agreements.
Opposition politicians and non-governmental organizations are concerned that the agricultural agreements, which lease out large tracts of Cambodian farmland to foreign investors, may result in civilian evictions like those which have followed similar Cambodian deals involving property development, forestry, and mining.
The UN’s committee on economic, social, and cultural rights announced that it was “gravely concerned that since the year 2000, over 100,000 people were evicted in Phnom Penh alone” after the conclusion of such deals. The chairman of Cambodia’s parliamentary foreign-affairs committee has also complained that no one really knows what terms are being offered to Kuwait and other countries to lease rice paddies.
Although the government has announced that Qatar plans to invest US$200 million “in rice farmland” as well as providing a loan for irrigation systems, it has not disclosed the specific details of what Qatar, Kuwait, and other investing nations will receive in return.