Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Six charged over forest camps

Six charged over forest camps

Six villagers were provisionally charged on Wednesday for attempting to log in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, the site of a REDD+ carbon credit project. Photo supplied
Six villagers were provisionally charged on Wednesday for attempting to log in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, the site of a REDD+ carbon credit project. Photo supplied

Six charged over forest camps

Mondulkiri Provincial Court prosecutors have charged six villagers for creating 10 camps within the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, the same site where Walt Disney Company purchased $2.6 million in carbon credits in 2016.

The six villagers, from nearby provinces, were found in the forest by patrolling rangers and villagers on Saturday and produced before the court on Wednesday, where the prosecutor provisionally charged them with measuring protected land with the intention to clear it, said Kong Puthira, REDD+ project officer at Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Disney carbon credits initiative is linked to the wildlife sanctuary’s REDD+ project, a United Nations-backed program to combat deforestation by giving local communities funds towards sustainable development projects.

Puthira said the group of six claimed that they had been instructed to clear the land by local NGO Director Pang Chhoun, who used his organisation as a front to initiate the illegal logging operation.

“The six people confessed that they followed the order of the disability NGO director to clear the forest that has been sold to this company [Disney],” Puthira said.

Puthira said that the initial incident report suggested that around 800 villagers were expected to participate in the logging, but Chhoun during questioning said that only 100 people were involved. Chhoun could not be reached on Wednesday.

Mondulkiri court spokesman Meas Pros said he was unaware of the arrests because he was out of the province and Keo Seima District Governor Nuon Sakon did not respond to requests for comment.

Din Bunthoeurn, director of the wildlife sanctuary, said the camps had been burned down and that the six villagers had been released on bail by the investigating judge, adding that he would ask the court to investigate others involved in the case, including the NGO director.

MOST VIEWED

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Breaking: Rubbish found packed inside 83 containers at S'ville port

    Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said

  • Some jobs off limits to foreigners from August

    Beginning from the second week of August, foreigners will be banned from driving taxis and tuk-tuks, as well as being motorcycle delivery drivers, street food vendors, hairdressers and product distributors among other lower-income jobs. Some white-collar jobs such as the head of human resources will