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Environmental law changes get go-ahead

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Three ministries on Monday agreed on an amendment to laws concerning forestry, fisheries and natural resource protection. Photo supplied

Environmental law changes get go-ahead

The ministries of Interior, Environment, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Monday agreed on the amendment to the laws concerning forestry, fisheries and natural resource protection.

They are set to send the draft to the Council of Ministers for revision before it can be passed by the National Assembly.

The amendment came after Minister of Interior Sar Kheng took issue with the existing forestry law and criticised high-ranking officials for allowing forestry crimes to happen.

Sar Kheng said some officials had even cleared forest for personal gains under the pretext of cleansing the base of hydropower dams.

Sak Setha, the secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, told The Post on Monday that the amendment, which was proposed by the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDDS), will lead to more effective implementation by authorities at all levels.

He said the existing laws have made it difficult for the authorities at the sub-national level to engage in environmental protection.

“The [ministries’] leaders agreed to amend these three laws including forestry law, fishery law and protected natural area law."

“In principle, we divide responsibilities between two ministries: the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Environment,” Setha said.

“Second, we classify authority at national and sub-national levels in order to promote participation from sub-national administration for better management and protection of the forest, fisheries and natural resources.

“Third, we review relations between judicial police and stakeholders,” he said.

Setha said there are still many stages ahead, including the launch of public consultative workshops before the draft can be sent to the National Assembly for approval.

“From past experience, it takes months before an amendment can be passed. Now we have up to three laws, so we may spend up to six months."

“The existing law doesn’t promote decentralisation so it hinders participation from sub-national administration,” he said.

While on a state visit to the US in September, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered authorities in the Kingdom to arrest loggers and to shoot them from helicopters if deemed necessary to stop illegal logging.