Tate & Lyle supplier faces court action
The Guardian newspaper has today reported that British sugar giant Tate & Lyle imported sugar from Cambodia through a supplier that is accused of using child labour and being complicit in expropriating land and inflicting violence on local people.
We reported the issue in September last year after campaigners called a boycott over the situation. Today's report shows things clearly haven't improved over the last few months.
The Tate & Lyle supplier, KSL Group, is alleged to have been complicit, along with the Cambodian government, in the eviction of people from their land, arson and theft.
Villagers interviewed by the Guardian claim they had their homes and property destroyed and land taken. They also say they were subjected to physical violence and that one of them was killed during the process of land clearance for plantations.
Two hundred Cambodian families have now launched a lawsuit against Tate & Lyle in the high court in London. The families claim the company knew – or should have known – of the allegations against its supplier and say they want to be compensated for the value of sugar grown on land they allege still belongs to them.
Those now taking court action say they have been forced to work on the plantations, where they can earn as little as 79p a day.
One of the claimants in the lawsuit told the Guardian,
"I had to pull my kids out of school and send them to work on the plantation after they took our land away because we couldn't afford to eat," said Chea Sok, 38, . "We lost five hectares, around $2,500 of income, and got no compensation, not even one riel."
Activists say nearly 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) have been cleared in three provinces to make way for sugar plantations since 2006.
Tate & Lyle say that it used third-party auditors to vet KSL but said it would stop using the supplier if the allegations proved true.
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