Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mondulkiri officials face land clearing collusion charges

Mondulkiri officials face land clearing collusion charges

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Members of the Bunong community had discovered three men (two escaped) felling trees while patrolling the Phnom Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary last Thursday. Supplied

Mondulkiri officials face land clearing collusion charges

A Mondulkiri commune chief and its head of police are among three people who could face up to five years in jail for allegedly allowing protected forest to be illegally cleared after complaints were filed with the provincial court.

The two officials and a local villager also face fines of up to 100 million riel ($25,000) under Article 100 of the Forestry Law.

Two Bunong indigenous representatives from Bou Sra commune’s Pou Lu village in Mondulkiri province’s Pech Chreada district brought the court action, which claimed protected forest in the Phnom Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary was felled.

Kroeung Tola, a Bou Sra community representative, told The Post on Monday that he had filed cases against Dam Dam commune chief Chas Na and its head of police, known as Nang.

Kam Kimvy, a local villager, was also named in the complaint for allegedly hiring workers to cut down trees in the sanctuary.

Na denied allegations that he had allowed the protected forest to be cleared and said the commune police chief would investigate.

He did not indicate when this would happen.

“I did not allow anything [illegal]. The community has called on me, so I will go and inspect the location,” Na said.

Tola said 15 members of the Bunong community had discovered three men felling trees while patrolling the Phnom Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary last Thursday.

While two escaped, the one who was apprehended said he had been hired by Kimvy to clear land, Pou Lu village community leader Klang Thol said.

“He said he was a hired worker and received one million riel [$250] per hectare. We saw they had cleared around 2ha of land. As we are not law enforcement officials, we could not arrest the offender, but he confessed that [Na, Nang and Kimvy] planned to fell trees across 7ha of land,” Tola said.

He said some of the trees were “so large that it would take two people to wrap their arms around them”.

The cleared land was in a thick area of forest usually reserved for burials. It is about 40km from the commune hall. Two chainsaws were handed to environment department officials in Bou Sra commune as evidence, he said.

Tola said the patrol did not give prior notice to the commune police chief or environment department officials for fear they would tip-off those involved.

Local environment department chief Sok Socheat said he would visit the area on Monday and report his findings to the provincial department.

Eang Mengly, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the Bunong community often complained when working with local authorities on forest patrols – particularly of environment department officials alerting illegal loggers.

“Authorities ask for paperwork to allow patrols and avoid going on them with the community.

“The community has lost faith in the local authorities, so I demand that they cooperate with the community and address the problems,” Meangly said.

The Post could not reach provincial environment department director Keo Sopheak for comment on Monday.


  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last