Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ratanakkiri officials lax on logging: complaint



Ratanakkiri officials lax on logging: complaint

A photo showing the alleged land clearing inside the protected area of Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in Ratanakkiri province. Photo supplied
A photo showing the alleged land clearing inside the protected area of Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in Ratanakkiri province. Photo supplied

Ratanakkiri officials lax on logging: complaint

A senior Adhoc official and nine community representatives yesterday filed a complaint at the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court against seven local officials they allege have turned a blind eye to illegal logging at the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.

According to the complaint, a group of about 30 people on June 22 and 23 were patrolling the protected area when they discovered some 800 hectares that had been cleared.

The complaint accuses the village, commune, district and provincial officials of not taking timely action on illegal forest crimes inside the sanctuary in Lumphat’s Seda commune.

Pen Bonnar, a senior land and natural resources investigator at the rights group Adhoc, said similar complaints have been filed in the past, but little has been done.

“We hope that the court will [act] independently and follow the rule of the law,” he said. “We hope that this can protect the natural resources in Cambodia for the next generation.”

The complaint says that local officials have been tasked with protecting the state land but that people continue to clear the forest. At the same time, it says, officials also accuse community members who are in fact protecting the area of being behind the illegal activity.

ADHOC's senior land and natural resources investigator Pen Bonnar, filed a complaint on Monday in Ratanakkiri court for alleged forest clearing in the protected area of Lumphat sanctuary. Facebook
ADHOC's senior land and natural resources investigator Pen Bonnar, filed a complaint on Monday in Ratanakkiri court for alleged forest clearing in the protected area of Lumphat sanctuary. Facebook

On June 28, the Lumphat working group and relevant authorities held a meeting with about 200 community members in Samut Kram village asking them to report any clearing, with attendees faulting authorities for failing to investigate on their own, according to the complaint.

Phon Khemerin, director of the Ratanakkiri Provincial Department of Environment, named in the complaint, refuted the accusation.

Khemerin said his department about three weeks ago discovered some 50 families living inside the sanctuary who had started to clear land to occupy, but the activities were halted.

He said the cleared land was minimal, with only a few plots of land encroached upon. He said he immediately informed the provincial governor and the environment minister of the activities.

The families were educated about the illegality of their actions and were told not to come back, he said. “They dislike us [for] trying to protect the area,” he said. “They don’t follow the law.”

Officials are now looking for the traders who persuaded the families to illegally move there, he added.

“We got some info,” he said. “We are starting to investigate.”After the investigation is concluded, officials will also take the case to court, he added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from