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Forest activists reveal names

120823_06

A stack of logs, alleged to have been illegally harvested, in Prey Lang forest earlier this month. Photograph: supplied

Villagers who claim their patrols last week uncovered criminal activity in Prey Lang forest presented the government yesterday with a list of 15 people they say are illegally logging in the area.

Reoun Sopheap, a representative of about 100 villagers from Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district, said the villagers also presented the government with photos and the names of companies and government departments linked to the deforestation.

“We hope Premier Hun Sen will [act] after receiving our evidence. Otherwise, the Prey Lang forest will be devastated completely,” he said, adding that the evidence had been widely distributed to the government and local authorities.

The villagers spent four days last week scouring the forest, which spreads over four provinces, for signs of illegal activity.

According to Sopheap, citizen patrol teams found evidence of about 500 cubic metres of freshly cut timber spread across five 20 to 30-hectare locations.

Following media coverage of their patrols, logging activity has ceased in the area, he said.

Chhim Savuth, public forum coordinator at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, which aided in the document submission, said government officials were involved in the logging.

“We have informed the government of locations where timber has beentaken from, details about trucks and the identities of criminals,” he said. “We plead the government to investigate more and to send these people to court.”

Uth Sam Orn, deputy provincial governor of Kampong Thom, said he was yet to receive any documents or evidence to support the villagers’ claims, but had already increased patrols in risk areas.

“The next thing we plan to do is work with residents who are committed to preventing forestry crime,” he said. “We share the same will to fight this kind of crime.”

Lim Leang Se, deputy director of Hun Sen’s Cabinet, said he had not received any information about the villagers’ claims of forestry crime in Prey Lang.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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