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No large-scale forest crimes in Kingdom, officials claim

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Ratanakkiri provincial Military Police seized logs in Andong Meas district on October 3, 2020. Fresh News

No large-scale forest crimes in Kingdom, officials claim

The National Committee for the Prevention and Crackdown of Natural Resource Crimes still claims there are no large-scale forest crimes in the Kingdom, despite forest activists saying that logging is taking place because people are unemployed.

National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said this on December 8 after concluding a meeting to review the work of the National Committee for the Prevention and Crackdown of Natural Resources Crimes, for the period August 17, last year, to November 16.

The National Committee was led by Sao Sokha, the deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and commander of the National Military Police.

“Overall, the situation of large-scale forest crimes do not exist. But it happens on a smaller scale as in the past,” Hy said.

He said the important point that Sokha confirmed at the meeting related to the implementation of directive Number 05.

This concerned guidance to leaders of all provincial unity commands to implement the daily prevention and crackdown of the natural resource crimes mechanism.

Hy said small scale forest crimes happened due to people clearing forests to build houses and for firewood. Authorities had instructed them to stop all such activities.

“If a crime happens, we must crack down on it. Those who have been educated but continue to commit small-scale crimes will face the law,” he said.

The minutes of the meeting showed that the National Committee continued to educate and disseminate to the people, the laws and regulations related to natural resources.

The National Committee will continue to strengthen the capital-provincial mechanism, using the total force of the capital-provincial-district administrative unity command to prevent and crack down on deforestation, timber transportation, illegal timber export, wildlife hunting and export, illegal logging, encroachment on State land and illegal mining.

Kreung Tola, a forestry activist in Mondulkiri province, claimed that deforestation is still happening due to unemployment.

“For me and the people, forest crimes have only increased, not decreased. Such crimes are now happening because of traders buying wood from people who are unemployed and in debt. They cut down the trees as they have no other option to earn a living,” he said.

Tola said perpetrators are currently logging and transporting timber at a rate of five to 10 containers per night with each truck being able to carry an average of three cubic metres of timber.

He said the activities he mentioned were specific to Mondulkiri province, and if other provinces were included, the number of such crimes would increase.

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