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NGOs call for broader anti-crime campaign

RIGHTS groups said Thursday that they planned to ask the government to widen its ongoing crackdown on illegal logging to encompass other crimes occurring in Cambodia, as officials in Dangkor district touted the inspection of a logging warehouse that they say is owned by a prominent Phnom Penh tycoon.

Hang Chhaya, chairman of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, said that during a press conference today, groups will voice concerns about the selective focus of law enforcement.

“We want authorities to focus on cracking down on all crimes, not just illegal logging,” he said, and added that eradicating crime must be “a long term and sustainable” objective.

The crackdown was initiated following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s January directive to target unauthorised logging and other illegal businesses operated by senior officials.

Meanwhile, authorities in Dangkor district said they had inspected a timber warehouse in Choam Chao commune owned by tycoon Hong Piv on Tuesday. Deputy district Governor Hem Darith said police did not confiscate any of the wood, and called the inspection a “checking operation”.

Military police spokesman Kheng Tito said authorities had arrested 14 suspected illegal loggers as of the end of March, some of whom were government officials. “Now we have the power to crack down on all crimes,” he said. “We are not afraid of big crimes, and we will continue to crack down like drizzling rain.”

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