Railways Households Submit Complaint to the IRC

Equitable Cambodia
Sahmakum Teang Tnaut

Media Statement
May 20, 2013

Railways Households Submit Complaint to the IRC

Ninety Phnom Penh Households affected by the ADB- and AusAID-funded Railways Rehabilitation Project have today submitted complaints to the Inter-Ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC). The complainants, comprising of both Households relocated to Trapeang Anhchanh and Households that had to demolish part of their homes along the railways, maintain that they have been harmed by the Project and seek redress. Specifically, the Households claim that they did not receive the correct compensation as outlined in the Project’s Resettlement Plan and are consequently seeking additional compensation. Complainants who remain along the railways are also seeking assurances of tenure security up until such a time as further development of the railways is due.

The Households’ complaint to the IRC follows the rejection of their complaints by the ADB Accountability Mechanism. The Households submitted complaints to the Mechanism’s problem solving function, the Office of the Special Project Facilitator (OSPF), in March 2013. The complaints, however, were determined ineligible on account of an ongoing investigation into the Project by the Mechanism’s compliance review function, the Compliance Review Panel (CRP). A November 2011 complaint to the OSPF by some 150 Households was previously found eligible; that process has recently come to a close, with the majority of the complainants receiving additional compensation to cover the shortfall between the compensation they originally received, and that which they were due under the Resettlement Plan.

“We complained to the OSPF because we saw previous complainants receive the compensation they were due,” said Luy Im, Representative of Complainants from Toul Sangke A. “When the other people complained, we were too scared to join them, and now we cannot access the OSPF process. This is very frustrating.”

“We know that most people didn’t receive the correct compensation,” said Khun Prom Sarith, Representative of Complainants from Trapeang Anhchanh. “By submitting this complaint to the IRC we trust that they will process it in the same way as the OSPF processed the other complaints.”

The lack of flexibility in the ADB’s Accountability Mechanism is the principal cause for the situation. The OSPF guidelines state that it cannot accept a complaint from the same Project if it is already being considered by the CRP, even if the complainants are different. The OSPF will also only facilitate on behalf of those Households who complain to them directly and will not consider all Affected Households.

“When the November 2011 OSPF complaint was submitted, it was requested that any remedies resulting from the process would be applied across the board to benefit all people who had been, or were likely to be, harmed by the Project. This was because many Affected Households had not been made aware of their right to complain to the Mechanism, were too scared to complain as a result of widespread threats and intimidation, or civil society actors did not have adequate resources to reach all Affected Households. In addition, we had data showing systematic downgrading of the compensation received by Affected Households,” said Nora Lindstrom, Programme Development Manager at Sahmakum Teang Tnaut. “Unfortunately, the OSPF declined to consider everyone affected, resulting in a situation where Affected Households now do not have access to the OSPF.”

The CRP complaint, submitted in August 2012, requested a parallel compliance investigation due to the initial OSPF complainants’ dissatisfaction with the problem-solving function’s processes and procedures, and its lack of focus on the Project’s overall compliance with the ADB Involuntary Resettlement Policy.

“The CRP is a completely different mechanism from the OSPF, and while it has the important function of assessing whether the ADB has violated its operational policies and procedures in formulating, processing, or implementing the Project, it does not address the issue of the correctness of compensation rates directly. That’s why simultaneous access to both functions is important,” said Eang Vuthy, Executive Director of Equitable Cambodia. “We sincerely hope however that the IRC will take these new complaints seriously and process them in a fair, transparent, and equitable fashion. This is a great opportunity for the IRC to show its competence and professionalism.”

Media contacts:

Khun Promsarith, Representative of Complainants from Trapeang Anhchanh, Tel: 077 524 790/ 088 922 3270
Ou Lun, Representative of Complainants from Phum 23, Tel: 092 234 295
Luy Im, Representative of Complainants from Toul Sangke A, Tel: 092 655 419
Ros Ly, Representative of Complainants from Toul Sangke A, Tel: 097 393 8883

Nora Lindstrom, Programme Development Manager, Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, Tel: +855 15 552 805, E-mail: nora@teangtnaut.org
Eang Vuthy, Executive Director, Tel: 855 12 791 700, E-mail: vuthy@equitablecambodia.org