Thai prisons released 55 Cambodian illegal loggers over the weekend, after the group had spent about two years in prison for their offences.
The 55 were sent back via the Cambodian-Thai border crossing in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district at about 2pm on Saturday, Touch Ra, director of the Choam-Sangam border checkpoint, said yesterday.
“The stories those released had told police were that they were manipulated by a businessman, who asked them to cut down rosewood for a high price,” Ra said. “Then they were chased, arrested and jailed.”
Low wages and ignorance of the consequences of illegally logging in Thailand leaves the door open for many crooked businessmen to take advantage of Cambodians who need the money, said Ya Navuth, the head of the NGO CARAM.
Cambodian culprits are often victims of land disputes, Navuth said yesterday.
“If the Cambodian government could solve these root issues, there would likely be change,” Navuth said. “Cambodian residents would probably remain in Cambodia, and work locally, rather than logging illegally.”