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R’kiri officials targeted for ‘tolerating’ logging

Bulldozers in Ratanakkiri province that were allegedly used to clear more than 5,000 hectares of forest land. ADHOC
Bulldozers in Ratanakkiri province that were allegedly used to clear more than 5,000 hectares of forest land. Adhoc

R’kiri officials targeted for ‘tolerating’ logging

A senior official with rights group Adhoc and two villagers from Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district filed lawsuits against seven local officials yesterday, accusing them of negligence in protecting some 5,000 hectares of cleared forest.

Adhoc senior land investigator Pen Bunnar, along with Batang commune resident Yang Thorn and Kaleng commune resident Soeung Yarat, filed the two separate suits yesterday accusing the officials of “tolerating forestry crime and not having stopped forest clearing” under articles 85, 94, 97, 100 and 101 of the Forestry Law.

Named in both complaints are provincial official and former Lumphat governor Kong Srun, acting Lumphat governor Nou The, former provincial Forestry Administration (FA) directors Yukan Vimean and Vong Soksery, and current provincial FA director Keb Kort.

The complaint filed by Bunnar and Thorn also named Batang commune chief Kit Chem, while that filed by Bunnar and Yarat also named Kaleng commune chief Sut Som.

Bunnar said yesterday that since all forest areas belonged to the state, citizens have the legal right to file a complaint over their destruction.

“All of them are involved in tolerating the crime and not taking action in time,” he said. “Of course, they did not clear it themselves, but the forest is under their responsibility.”

Kort, the provincial FA director, maintained yesterday that the forest was still intact, and said he was unconcerned by the suit.

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