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World Tristar Entertainment Ltd. land grab in the Koh Sla region, Kampot, Cambodia

Evictions instead of employment: Economic Land Concessions for agrobusinesses affect Cambodia's poorest farmers.


This land grab, caused by the company World Tristar Entertainment (Cambodia) Co. Ltd., is an example of how Economic Land Concessions (ELC) in Cambodia are leading to the loss of livelihood of the most poor rural farmers, while destroying the country’s valuable natural resources.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:World Tristar Entertainment Ltd. land grab in the Koh Sla region, Kampot, Cambodia
State or province:Kampot province
Location of conflict:Trapang Phlang commune, Koh Slah region, Chhouk district
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The commune expands over an area of 51,900ha. The company has an ELC over 9,800ha (initially it was bigger than 10,000ha, but was afterwards reduced). 5,100ha of this land overlaps with villagers land (2)

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Project area:9,800
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:6,499
Start of the conflict:21/04/2005
Company names or state enterprises:World Tristar Entertainment (Cambodia) Co. Ltd from Cambodia - agro-industry
So Nguon Group Co., Ltd. from Vietnam - agriculture, construction
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:It is unclear whether any NGO was directly involved in the conflict. The case received attention, however, by various national and international NGOs, such as Cambodian rights group LICADHO, ADHOC, CHRAC, HRTF and the Asian Farmers Association (AFA).
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Land occupation
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsexposure to toxic herbicides
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:According to an AFA (Asian Farmers Association) study, conducted in 2012, the farmers had the following requests: (copied from (1)):
To the government (of Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen) at the national, provincial, and district levels: a. Take immediate action to resolve the issue in favor of the villagers. b. Stop the company in taking any more of the villagers’ land.
To the company: a. Return the remaining 2,000 hectares to the villagers as soon as possible in order to resolve the issue. b. Revise its land boundaries to exclude the area the villagers occupy. c. Take the land along the western part of the mountain instead.
To other stakeholders: a. Support and take the cause of the villagers--former soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the people and nation; whose only compensation for the services rendered is the plot of land the company is now taking away from them.
To fellow villagers: a. Continue the struggle to get back the remaining 2,000 hectares of their land through legitimate means. b. Continue to appeal for help from stakeholders concerned, especially Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project went on. In spite of supposed illegal activities of the company and refusal to return the concession land, the ELC was re-granted in 2011.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Cambodia's land law and related regulatory frameworks
[click to view]

2005 Subdecree on Economic Land Concessions (ELC) in Cambodia
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(1) Petilla 2012. AFA Cases on Large Scale Land Acquisition in Asia. Research Report. (accessed 10/02/2015)
[click to view]

(6) CHRAC and HRTF 2010. Still Losing Ground: Forced Evictions and Intimidation in Cambodia. Report prepared by CHRAC (Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee and HRTF (Housing Rights Task Force) (accessed 12/02/2015)
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

(3) Phnom Penh Post article: "Officials confiscate luxury timber" (accessed 12/02/2015)
[click to view]

(4) Phnom Penh Post article: "not all economic land concessions listed" (accessed 12/02/2015)
[click to view]

(5) News article on the poisoning of villagers through herbicide (accessed 12/02/2015)
[click to view]

(2) Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Cambodia (accessed 10/02/2012)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update25/02/2015
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