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Activists seek UN monitors

Activists seek UN monitors

Anti-logging activists wrote to the United Nations yesterday to call for the monitoring of a lawsuit in which they accuse hundreds of officials in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary of illegal deforestation.

The Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organization (NRWPO) listed 241 officials it suspects of illegal deforestation in the nine-page letter to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia.

NRWPO director Chea Hean said yesterday that Chhun Chhie Heng, director of Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary, and eight other officials were responsible for logging in breach of the 2002 Forestry Law.

“I suggest the UN monitor and investigate my lawsuit in order to obtain justice and bring the suspects and their accomplices to prison,” Hean said.

Hean and Heng were questioned by police last month, but thus far no one has been arrested or charged in the case.

Hean’s lawsuit alleges that sanctuary officials frame him by planting evidence, which led to a sentence of three years in prison in 2010. NRWPO staff members, the letter claims, were intimidated and their houses burned down, leading 18 of them to flee to Thailand.

Heng was not reachable by phone yesterday.

In a separate case, Hean said he received a copy of a letter from 48 families in Oral district to the Ministry of Environment asking the government to clearly demarcate protected areas and investigate illegal logging.

The families, Hean said, approached the NRWPO on September 28 asking that their allegations of officials conspiring to log protected forest be forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Unit.

Hean said he was holding the letter until the ministry had done an official investigation.

Officials have not taken action in a similar case lodged with the ACU in 2010.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2011 awarded more than 17,000 hectares in the sanctuary to private companies for agro-industrial development.

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