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Authorities on the hunt for Kampong Chhnang forestry crime suspects

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The tractor was allegedly used by suspects who cleared forest in Kampong Chhnang. facebook

Authorities on the hunt for Kampong Chhnang forestry crime suspects

Kampong Chhnang provincial authorities are pursuing suspects involved in the clearing of a forest in Teuk Phos district’s Kraing Skear commune.

The forest clearing in the Peam Lok and Sorya mountain area was uncovered late last month. Authorities impounded four vehicles including tractors and rollers after the suspects fled the scene.

Agriculture, forestry and fisheries department director Ngin Hun told The Post on Tuesday that the authorities have yet to wrap up the investigation.

“We are working to identify them. They secretly cleared land in the Sorya Mountain area. We will hunt them down and send them to court."

“We seized four vehicles including tractors and rollers in the raid. The illegal work is not happening anymore and we are measuring the area that has been cleared,” he said.

Sam Chankea, Kampong Chhnang provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said illegal forest clearing and forest flooding has slightly increased of late.

“The clearing of forest land for private ownership happens not only in the Peam Lok and Sorya mountain area but has also increased in other places."

“We don’t know how they have colluded to get permission for state land clearing for private ownership like that,” he said.

Chankea urged the authorities to increase surveillance and action against the illicit activities.

“[Forestry] crimes keep increasing. It means the perpetrators have not been punished and the government’s stern measures have not been effectively implemented."

Meanwhile, the Kampong Chhnang provincial governor, Chhour Chandoeun, has also instructed his officials to ensure stricter enforcement of the law.

“If journalists report [the crime], don’t accuse them of reporting fake news. The authorities need to cooperate with the public and journalists for information related to state land grabbing and illegal fishing,” he said.