While the Asian Development Bank (ADB) celebrates the 10th year anniversary of their Accountability Mechanism, project affected communities are still in grief over the loss of their properties, their livelihood, and their rights.
“I was evicted in my own home,” Srey Van recounted, he is a public school teacher forcibly displaced in the Cambodia Railway Rehabilitation Project. Upon visiting the resettlement site in Battambang a few years back, he narrated that it has been eight years since the project has been implemented yet there are still families who have not received additional compensation. There is still shortage in potable water in some of the relocation sites and communities are still experiencing difficulty of going to the city for lack of public transportation.
Similarly, Maribeth Garcia, a mother of five raised her reservations in the construction of Visayas Baseload Development Project in the Philippines “I fear for my children’s health in the future,” she stated.
The ADB Accountability Mechanism according to NGO Forum's Annabel Perreras, former ADB Policy Coordinator is simply “a functional necessity designed to protect the autonomy and independence of international organizations including the ADB against interference in discharging its entrusted functions effectively”.
Eang Vuthy of Equitable Cambodia said “the legitimacy of the Accountability Mechanism is compromised whenever a potential conflict of interest arises at the ADB Board Compliance Review Committee (BCRC) level.” He also added that “…as per the policy, the CRP will investigate alleged non – compliance by ADB with its operational policies and procedures in any ADB – assisted project”.
Rayyan Hassan, executive director of NGO Forum on ADB said that “this goes back to the question of ADB enjoying immunity, the Bank should be stripped off its immunity because it continues to peddle on the illusion that it is an institution committed in the principles of transparency, accountability and responsible development financing”.
There have been attempts of filing cases on domestic courts and form a narrative of challenging immunity of international financial institutions. Environmental and human rights group EarthRights International (ERI) on behalf of the affected fishing communities sued the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in a federal court in D.C. over the IFC – funded Tata Mundra Coal Power Plant. ERI also filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Honduran farmers on the IFC investment on Corporación Dinant S.A. de C.V.
“Time and again ADB has contributed in the perilous situation Asia is facing in the midst of the rising inequality, illegitimate debts, environmental degradation, displacement and increasing vulnerability of the poor,” Hassan added.